Do you roll out of bed and workout on an empty stomach? Or do you squeeze in an afternoon session hours after your previous meal?
I can't deny, that used to be me. I assumed running on empty was the way to go. Until learning about nutrition and exercise physiology, that is. As intuitive as it may seem that not eating before exercise is the fastest way to shed pounds, it could not be further from true.
Here's what really happens when you run on empty:
After a period of fasting, ~4 to 5 hours without fueling, your carbohydrate stores get depleted. Then you start to move, but your muscles cannot find the needed fuel.
Sound the biologic alarm.
Your body hears the warning that fuel is scarce and kicks into preservation mode. With frantic urgency to get energy to your working muscles and hangry brain, you start breaking down muscle, a.k.a. protein, to provide the needed energy. This is bad news because muscle is your metabolic machine, keeping you lean and mean. Essentially, your metabolism slams on the breaks and goes into fat-storage mode. The only way to stay in the fat-burning zone is to supply your body with enough food.
Here's what you need to remember: Fat burns in a carbohydrate flame.
To lose weight in the form of fat rather than losing that hard-earned lean muscle, you must eat some carbs before working out!
I began eating before workouts and it made such a HUGE difference in my energy, endurance and my appetite! Eating enough from the onset meant I could enjoy a reasonable amount of food without the ravenous monster in my belly rearing his ugly head and devouring an entire bag of potato chips- it wasn't pretty. I'll never go back to running on empty.
So, what should you eat?
Eating anything is better than nothing. Everybody's digestion is a little bit different, but in general, choose quick energy that is easy to digest, i.e. carbs. Here are 5 pre-workout snack options to help you shed the fat while developing long, lean muscles:
- Banana with PB2
- Cereal with nonfat milk or milk alternative
- Handful of Trail Mix
- A bar made with whole foods
You can find many of our favorite snacks on our Shop page.
If you typically workout out on an empty stomach, give a pre-work snack a go for a week and see how you feel.
Share your favorite pre-workout fuel by commenting on this blog to share your tips with others!
Need help finding the perfect workout fuel for you? Contact us!