Monday, 23 June 2014

What (not) to eat before you exercise…

Most people exercise/workout to lose body fat. Even the people aiming to gain muscle mass (which should be ALL of you) want to lose body fat too.

With this in mind, should you eat before a workout? How long before? And what?

The key thing to remember is that your body is smart and it will use whatever form of energy is most readily available. Why go to the trouble of breaking down and burning fats if there’s a steady source of sugar at hand?

If your goal is fat loss, you need to avoid sugar (carbs) before your workouts. Quite simply, if you have glucose running through your bloodstream, that’s what your body will preferentially burn, NOT fat. Why would it?!

So if you’re one of these people who go into your spin class, sports drink in hand, you need to stop. Right away.

You need to prime your body to burn fat by reducing insulin levels, which are elevated the most by consuming carbohydrates.

If insulin is present, you’ll be pushing sugars INTO cells (either muscle or fat cells, depending on how much exercise you’ve done and/or the amount of carbs you’ve eaten – because once muscle cells are full, they’ll head straight to fat cells for storage!)

If insulin is NOT present (i.e. you haven’t eaten sugary carbs), then your body will be relying on the stored energy in your muscles and your fat cells.

So grabbing a banana before your workout is a BAD idea, as are any sports drinks (trust me, avoid the supposed “low sugar/calorie” options too).

Save your carbs for AFTER your workout and/or your evening meal. This will replenish the muscle glycogen you burned during your workout, without storing excess as fat (assuming you don’t overdo the carbs that is – eat too many and you’ll be right back to fat storage!)

Nutrition can get very complicated, but for the most part, it’s the simple changes that’ll make the biggest differences. Get on top of those, and you’ll probably never have to worry about the minor tweaks and details unless you’re planning on competing.

Visit for information on Personal Training, Nutrition coaching or Bootcamp Fitness classes.