4 pre-workout nutrition myths that are actually wrong

The concept of eating before working out is generally frowned upon and yet, the majority of arguments used to defend it are generally quite sound.

Pre-workout myths
© Getty Images
Pre-workout myths

If we were to conduct a survey among readers to find out whether we should eat before or after working out, it is highly probable that the responses would be mostly ‘after.’ However, both answers are correct, even if eating before you exercise doesn’t serve the same purpose as eating afterwards. As often happens, the negative arguments are generally those that are most accepted. Here are four of these ideas that might be enough to change more than one person’s opinion about whether they should eat before exercising.

Discover our latest podcast

You shouldn’t eat before working out if you want to lose weight

Mathematically, this should work out, given that to lose weight, you have to burn off more calories than you consume. But the food eaten before exercising is also a source of energy that can help you to have a good workout. And where there’s an effective workout, there’s more chance you’re going to gain muscle and lose weight. Furthermore, you should know that when you first start exercising, you don’t lose fat weight, but water weight instead. So unless you’re in a dry spell, don’t feel bad about having a snack before getting your sweat on.

Eating before is only useful if you do cardio

As cited in the paragraph just above, eating gives your body more energy, whatever type of workout you’re going for. Gabrielle Mancella, a registered dietitian, to MensHealth.com:

The point of eating before a workout is to provide energy to perform at a higher level – lift heavier weights, work faster and harder.

Try lifting heavy weights on an empty stomach, we’re not sure you’ll be at your best.

Having a protein shake before working out gives you energy

Well, yes. But not a whole lot more energy. Having a protein shake before working out accelerates the speed at which your muscles’ recover after you finish, in comparison to having the same shake post-workout. Proteins nourish the muscles so they can grow faster and stronger, but it’s the carbohydrates that give the body energy. So maybe have an energy bar or a light meal of around 200 to 300 calories to refuel before heading into the gym.

Eating before exercising is going to make me throw up

Again, yes. If you eat too much or food that’s not suitable for your workout. Marie Spano, nutritionist for three professional teams in Atlanta (Hawks, Braves and Falcons), argues:

If this is happening, a person should adjust either what or when they are eating instead of not eating at all.

As a pre-workout snack, bananas are undoubtedly the best natural food to eat, with either tea or coffee. Pay attention to what you’re eating before you exercise and pay even closer attention to how much you’re eating, not too much and not too little.

Check out the video above for more!

Get fit in 11 minutes with this Prince Philip approved workout Get fit in 11 minutes with this Prince Philip approved workout