Best Food to Eat Before a Workout

Bad Weight-Loss Technique: Exercising on an Empty Stomach

It's embarrassing to admit, but I used to exercise in the morning on an empty stomach. Not only did I worry about getting cramps if I ate, but I also thought it could speed up weight loss. The idea seems logical — if you don't have any food in your belly, your body will start using up stores of fat as its energy source. I'm not the only one. Many bodybuilders and gym goers also believe sweating it out on an empty belly will help burn more fat instead of using up the stores of quick carbs found in the food they've just eaten. This couldn't be further from the truth, and research conducted by Strength and Conditioning Journal shows that calories burned comes from muscle instead.

Not only are you losing muscle by exercising hungry, but since you have no fuel to work out, you won't have the energy to exercise as long or as intensely as you would if you had eaten. This translates to less overall calories burned. In another study, women who consumed 45 grams of carbs before working out actually ended up eating less calories the rest of the day, which also aids in weight loss.

The bottom line is that if you're trying to lose weight, working out without eating is not the way to go about it. In order to maximize your caloric burn, you want to eat a healthy snack before sweating it out in your sports bra. Need some ideas? Keep reading for my favorite preworkout snacks.

Carbs rather than protein offer your body fuel, so make sure your snack has an emphasis on carbs. Simple carbs are best since they digest more easily than complex ones. About 15 to 30 minutes before your workout, try eating:

  • Half a slice of whole wheat bread with one tablespoon crunchy peanut butter.
  • An ounce of cheese with some crackers.
  • Two tablespoons cottage cheese mixed with a quarter cup of sliced grapes.
  • Handful of pretzels dipped in hummus.
  • Half an avocado spread on toast or crackers.
  • Half a banana mixed with half a cup of yogurt.
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