Knowing whether or not you should eat before a workout can be tricky — some believe eating a small bite provides extra energy, while others swear by fasted cardio and want to avoid side effects like digestion problems and muscle cramps.
THE CASE FOR EATING BEFORE A WALKING WORKOUT
Eating before a walking workout can be crucial if you’re upping the intensity and duration. For example, if you’re training to walk a marathon, combining your walk with other weightlifting activities, or planning to do interval training to up the speed, your performance could suffer if you don’t have some carbs and protein in your system to fuel the activity.
What’s more, fueling with protein can help prevent muscle damage during intense workouts and studies show consuming carbohydrates can provide more energy to go longer for endurance-based activities like walking.
But to avoid things like stomach cramps, indigestion and other discomfort, make sure you give yourself enough time (at least 45 minutes) to properly digest your food before beginning a high-intensity or long-distance walking workout.
THE CASE FOR EATING AFTER A WALKING WORKOUT
Waiting to eat until after your morning workout might be beneficial if your primary goal is to lose weight. A study conducted on overweight men found those in the group who walked for an hour without eating burned more fat and boosted their metabolism compared to those who had a meal prior to the same workout.
What’s more, additional studies have supported the idea fat loss happens more efficiently in a fasted state. This is partly due to the body having to rely on stored fat as energy instead of carbs and sugars from pre-workout eats.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you’re exercising for less than 90 minutes, it may not be necessary to take in additional fuel. However, longer duration and higher intensity exercise requires that added boost. If you do decide to fuel pre-workout, try to find something that agrees with your body and is easy to digest. A few healthy options include Greek yogurt with granola, a piece of toast with nut butter or a small portion of oatmeal topped with sliced bananas.