Up until a few years back, it was considered a very risky practice to eat before swimming. Fortunately, this theory has been proven wrong. For any activity, be it swimming, cycling, running/jogging or strength training, on an empty stomach the fat does burn at a faster rate but the energy reserves will only last for a short span of time. Lesser energy = less intense training. Hence, the workout will also last for a short period and there might also be a greater risk of strains and other injuries due to exercise related fatigue. Working out on an empty stomach also increases the chances of overeating post workout, thus, all the benefits of the workout will be lost.
Why You Shouldn’t Workout On An Empty Stomach
The main reason for having something before a workout is to make sure there is constant energy from the start to the end of the workout. The body does not need a large meal, it can even be a small carb rich snack to kick start the metabolism.
Carbs are easily digestible and quickly provide energy. Proteins and Fats also provide energy, but not as quickly and as much as carbs. Hence, the best thing to have is a carb source. If it’s a large meal, it has to be taken 2-4 hours prior to the workout. If it’s a small snack, it can be taken 15-30 mins before the activity.
Some examples of a small pre-workout snacks are:
- Banana or any other fruit
- 2 dates along with some nuts
- Fresh fruit juice
- Vegetable salad (small bowl of non-gaseous veggies)
- 2 Slices of bread with peanut butter
Post workout, muscles are tired and fatigued and need some proteins as well as some carbs. Here, proteins will help in repairing the worn and torn tissues and strengthening muscles, whereas carbs will help replenish the energy reserves. One can choose to have a meal if it’s meal time or opt for some snacks post workout. But, we should always make sure there is at least one source of protein in the meal.
Some examples of post workout snack include:
- A glass of skimmed milk
- Boiled egg whites
- Boiled grams/Chana chaat/ Chole/Rajma
- Sattu drink
- Besan cheela
- Boiled/Grilled chicken or Fish
- Yogurt (sugar and fat free) with choice of fruits and nuts
In conclusion, intake of food before and after workout is favourable to maintain better health and fitness. However, there are no specific rules for sports nutrition. If your goal is extensive weight loss and working out on an empty stomach works for you, then do what’s best and listen to your body. Also, make sure that you’re hydrated.
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