Jillian Michaels

November 14, 2015

MYTH: Never Eat Before a Workout

A big fitness myth that has been floating around forever is that working out on an empty stomach will help you burn more fat. But this has been proven totally untrue. Find out the facts!

The Truth: You should always eat something before exercising so your body has enough fuel to power through your workout.

The rationale behind this widely accepted myth is that forgoing food before exercise will force your body to burn more fat during your workout. This is a big, fat lie: Starving yourself before exercising can actually be detrimental to your body.

Your body needs a certain amount of sugar for fuel when training. When that blood sugar is not there, your body will convert your own muscle tissue into energy. A study published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal looked at cyclists who ate before they trained versus those who fasted before they trained. The amount of fat burn was the same for both groups, but those who had trained without eating first had 10 percent of their calorie burn come from protein — including their own muscle mass. You’re trying to maintain muscle, not eat away at it.

Plus, your body needs energy to perform at a high intensity. And nowadays it’s common knowledge the intensity training will have greater effects at an accelerated pace. How can you do that if you haven’t properly fueled your body? Think about it this way: Would you drive a car without gas? Use your iPhone without charging it? Nope and nope. If you haven’t eaten anything, your workout won’t be as intense as if you’d fueled up beforehand. You won’t have the strength, speed, or stamina to burn those calories and speed up your results because you’ll likely suffer from low blood sugar, which will make you dizzy and sluggish.

You don’t need to gorge yourself; a healthy snack will do the trick. I suggest you eat something 45 minutes to an hour before training. No sooner, because that can cause cramps and make you sick during your workout. Aim for something with carbohydrates and protein. Here are a few quick, healthy snack ideas: a whey shake, organic greek yogurt with berries and crushed walnuts, or a slice of whole grain toast with almond butter and banana slices.  

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