• Autumn Bates, CCN, MS

Should I Eat Before I Work Out? [Intermittent Fasting Tips]

Updated: May 27, 2020

Affiliate Disclosure

Today marks day 5 of the New Year Intermittent Fasting Challenge! AENpeeps all around the WORLD are following the Complete IF Bundle protocols to tap into fat burning mechanisms, boost energy levels and FINALLY achieve their wellness goals in 2020! I'll Keto Coffee cheers to that! ☕️

One question that I've been receiving lately is whether or not you should eat before you work out for best results. I'll admit, this can be a tricky question to answer as it's not the same for every person. However, today I'm breaking down the details of why you should (or should not!) eat before you workout.

Pssst - It's not too late to join the New Year Intermittent Fasting Challenge! Head over HERE for the deets on how to jump in and start feeling GOOD again!

should I eat before I work out

Why Are People Telling You to Eat First?

If you have ever been told to eat before a workout (or at least within 30 minutes after your workout), this mainly comes down to the concept of amino acid utilization and muscle repair. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins. These are needed to repair your muscles as well as literally every other cell, hormone and nerve within your body. The idea that eating right before or right after your workout comes down to the theory that this will help your muscles best repair after your workout because you have amino acids available for recovery.

The Type of Exercise MATTERS

The field of Nutrition is typically hyper focused on specific groups of people - for example, elite athletes. While this is fantastic for getting into ideal protocols for very specific groups, it says NOTHING about what most of us should be doing.

For example, when it comes to eating before (or immediately after) a workout, this is ONLY important if you are an elite athlete performing multiple hours of exercise a day or two-a-days (where you workout intensely twice in one day). Because the damage is so great from high levels of exercise and the rest is so short, having more immediate sources of amino acids is crucial.

BUT - and this is a big one - it ONLY applies to elite athletes. It turns out that research is showing as long as you are eating enough of the right type of foods (like what we talk about in the Complete Intermittent Fasting Bundle protocols) within the 24 hours after your workout, you have ample sources of protein to tap into for muscle recovery.

For example, if you eat a high quality meal (like the Spanish Meatballs from the Complete IF Bundle) at dinner and workout the next day in a fasted state, you will have enough protein and energy from the night before to aid in muscle recovery.

Fat Burning + Muscle Building Perks of a Fasted Workout

In fact, even if you are a high school or college athlete or simply looking to stay in shape, there are multiple perks of NOT eating before your workout (Intermittent Fasting). When you are in a fasted state, growth hormone and testosterone levels are higher and blood glucose levels are more stable. This means that fat burning is activated and your body can use it's own fuel sources during your workout instead of relying on a meal.

Plus, with the increased growth hormone and testosterone levels, this also acts to protect your muscles from damage and aid in muscle recovery.

Why You SHOULDN'T Eat Before Your Workout

Remember what I said about fasting and growth hormone/testosterone levels? It turns out as soon as you eat these levels naturally plummet. That means by eating before you workout, you miss out on the fat burning and muscle protecting effects of these two hormones. You also are more reliant on the energy that you just consumed vs. the energy that is stored in your fat cells.

And to top this all off, digestion takes a lot of energy. By eating first, you remove energy that could have been focused on perfecting your deadlift or achieving a PR and instead shift it to breaking down and absorbing the food in your small intestine. This can also lead to stomach cramps, bloating and indigestion from the combination of your body attempting to digest food while also getting your workout in.