Before & After

Do you need to eat before and after exercise?

How much does the body need?What is minimum amount of food, calories? Protein? Light. Non spicy, sugary, etc.
Will you vomit? How to avoid this?

Replies

  • callsitlikeiseeit
    callsitlikeiseeit Posts: 8,633 Member
    i never eat before working out. it will make me nauseus and I wont be able to workout. everyone is different.

    put your stats in mfp and it will calculate what your calorie goals should be. note: 2 pounds a week is not a good target for everyone (or even most), it depends on how much weight you have to lose.

    i eat mostly the same things I always have. i lost 130 pounds. if it can fit in my calories, it is pretty much fair game. different people respond differently to different macro combinations. For me, I need the carbs and protein to be full and satiated.

  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,878 Member
    In order to have energy to exercise and recover, we need to eat enough overall. It doesn't have to be before or after exercise, although some people find from personal experience that they do prefer having a snack before or after. If you're exercising for an extended period (like a long run or bike ride), you will probably also want to consider fueling during that exercise.

    There are lots of people who find they exercise better when they haven't eaten for a while. For example, I typically run in the morning and I won't eat beforehand unless I'm planning on running for a few hours or I feel particularly hungry. Anything under 15 miles, I know from experience that I'll be fine. There is no minimum amount of food or calories if you do decide you want to eat. Your body already has stored energy for activity, so most people don't have to worry about forcing themselves to eat unless there is a medical reason or they know from experience that they need to do so.

    Even if you do need to eat, it shouldn't have to be enough that vomiting is a concern. You can have something like half a banana, a piece of toast . . . something like that.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 25,251 Member
    xdumler69 wrote: »
    Do you need to eat before and after exercise?

    How much does the body need?
    Some of this is very individual. Some people can do very long, intense workouts (like a long run) first thing in the morning, fasted. Others don't do well.

    I'm one of the others. I've learned I need to eat a light, satisfying meal before a morning workout, especially one with any intensity. Fasted, I'm good for about 20 minutes of something like medium-high intensity rowing (although it stills feels like a struggle, honestly). Beyond that, my performance tanks and I feel awful (not sick, just overtaxed and underperforming). I can go longer with less intense exercise fasted, before it's a problem, like maybe a 2-3 mile walk is OK, but around there somewhere I start getting draggy.

    It's possible to train your body to handle different conditions more effectively, I think. But the above is my default mode. (And I've been very active for 15+ years, so this is not a "new exerciser" thing. It's just my idiosyncratic way of being.)

    So, experiment some, and find out.

    I'd add, though, that it's a poor plan to try to do a very intense exercise program plus a very aggressive weight loss plan (high deficit, aiming for fast weight loss). To be effective, exercise requires fuel, in general (even though it doesn't universally require specific timing). Heavy exercise with overall too little fuel leads to poor exercise performance, poorer fitness improvement, and fatigue that bleeds calorie burn out of daily life activity. Don't undereat on an overall basis, plus add lots of exercise on top of the undereating.
    What is minimum amount of food, calories? Protein? Light. Non spicy, sugary, etc.
    Also individual, IME. I row in summer (in boats) with friends. Everyone seems to have different preferences, from fasted to full breakfasts; high-carb to plenty protein; minutes before vs. early enough that the breakfast will settle; etc. The specific exercise mode (like running vs. lifting, say) might matter to an individual, too, or the intensity.

    Maybe experiment some?
    Will you vomit? How to avoid this?

    I've never known anyone who vomited just because of eating. Some people have a tendency to vomit from *ultra* intense exercise, though. Some find certain foods increase that tendency. That, too, is individual. When I first started competing (in my 40s, BTW) I had an experienced rower tell me never to eat dairy at breakfast before racing, because it would cause digestive upsets, maybe even vomiting. I routinely eat dairy at breakfast, never had a problem.

    It's not generally a thing you need to worry about as a new or non-intense exerciser, though. When starting out in fitness, the best course (for many reasons) is to start slowly with very manageable intensity, and gradually work your way toward tougher workouts. As you do that, you may observe that you feel best with certain eating patterns, or that as you approach much higher intensity than you've done before, you start feeling a little unsettled digestively. If that happens, you can experiment with eating changes, or with training to limit the digestive effects.

    With sensible management of exercise progression, it won't be a significant problem.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,081 Member
    edited January 2021
    A very common question that is very nuanced.

    In general, if you choose to eat before training, I would go with something easily digestable (e.g., banana, protien shake, steel oats, gummy bears).

    Afterwards? Definately. There isn't a specific window of when or how much a person should eat. I would suggest eating well balanced meals that helps you adhere to your goals.
  • rosebarnalice
    rosebarnalice Posts: 3,493 Member
    edited January 2021
    My main exercise is swimming. I have to avoid eating for at least 1.5 hours before I swim and avoid drinking anything except water for at least 30 minutes beforehand or I will earp all through my swim. I won't actually vomit, but I can definitely experience some digestivebackwash-- particularly if I ate something spicy or acidic.

    I usually swim after work then go straight home for dinner afterwards, and I'm always careful drink 20 -24 oz of water when I get home because I'm always dehydrated.

    I also keep a stash of peanut butter filled pretzels in my car in case I need a little salt/ carb / protein boost on the 20 minute drive home - otherwise I'll hit the kitchen absolutely starving and that can lead to some really poor food choices :-)
  • jessienani
    jessienani Posts: 60 Member
    There are countless theories on this matter.
    In short, I would say it’s 100% up to you and what your body is telling you.
    However, to start I would recommend fasting through your workout. This will let your body focus on working on what’s currently in your system rather than confusing your body with having to digest food and utilize at the same time. Several theories point to this because bad for the food you are trying to digest.

    As for the rest, I recommend you speak to a dietitian or at the very least begin listening to The Model Health Show podcast.
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,878 Member
    jessienani wrote: »
    There are countless theories on this matter.
    In short, I would say it’s 100% up to you and what your body is telling you.
    However, to start I would recommend fasting through your workout. This will let your body focus on working on what’s currently in your system rather than confusing your body with having to digest food and utilize at the same time. Several theories point to this because bad for the food you are trying to digest.

    As for the rest, I recommend you speak to a dietitian or at the very least begin listening to The Model Health Show podcast.

    Some people might experience discomfort if they try to exercise after eating, but it will not "confuse" your body to digest while you're exercising. In fact, since digestion is a multistage process that can take days, it's virtually impossible to design a routine that won't involve some combination of digesting and activity. If an RD is telling you that your body will become "confused" by digesting food at any stage, I would ask them to be specific about what they're trying to tell you, as this isn't really a coherent concept.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,081 Member
    jessienani wrote: »
    There are countless theories on this matter.
    In short, I would say it’s 100% up to you and what your body is telling you.
    However, to start I would recommend fasting through your workout. This will let your body focus on working on what’s currently in your system rather than confusing your body with having to digest food and utilize at the same time. Several theories point to this because bad for the food you are trying to digest.

    As for the rest, I recommend you speak to a dietitian or at the very least begin listening to The Model Health Show podcast.

    No. Our bodies are amazingly adaptive and utilizes food without confusion.

    Training fasted is a preference and has no benefits other than someone who is a endurance athlete.