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Do You Need to Eat Before Exercise?

By Sara Butler

Exercise and nutrition are two of the most important things that contribute to your overall health. They also happen to be two factors that have a big impact on each other. Eating right can fuel your sweat sessions at the gym and help your body to adapt and recover. Still, many people are confused about whether or not eating before exercise is recommended. It’s not a simple question to answer. Here’s what you need to know!

When You Exercise on an Empty Stomach

Your body needs fat and carbohydrates for energy. Your fat is stored in fat tissues as triglycerides. Carbohydrates are stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen -- and they’re also available for your body to use in the form of blood sugar.

Studies have consistently shown that blood sugar is higher before exercise and during it when you eat a meal before hitting the gym. That does make sense since pre-exercise meals often contain carbohydrates that are used by your body during your workout.

But when you exercise before you’ve eaten on an empty stomach, your body’s needs are met by the breakdown of fat. So, while it may seem like a good idea to exercise before you eat in order to burn fat, not eating will also impact your body’s ability to perform at its best.

Do You Burn More Fat By Not Eating?

As mentioned, many people think that by working out on an empty stomach, they burn more fat during their workout, but the research doesn’t support that conclusion. In studies of people who exercised on an empty stomach, there is no overwhelming evidence that exercising on an empty stomach leads to greater fat loss. And for women, there has been no difference in loss of fat between those who exercise on an empty stomach and those who eat first.

What Kind of Exercise Do You Do?

If you’re going to be participating in short-duration exercise such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) it may benefit you to do it before you eat. But if you’re going to participate in longer exercise sessions, such as distance running, you’ll perform better and feel much better too if you eat first.

Whether or not you eat before exercise depends on many things. If you need guidance, discuss it with the chiropractors at The Joint!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Lynnwood, Wash.

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