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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What should I eat before going to the gym?

    I usually work out in the mornings and don't enjoy going on an empty stomach but at the same time I know I cannot have a full plate of bacon eggs and toast… what is something light I can eat before going to the gym?
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  • 7

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    John Toomey

    Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer

    I'm a down to earth practising (and fully accredited) Exercise Physiologist based in Esperance, WA. I have been a practising EP since 2004. I've been ... View Profile

    Piece of Toast.
    Banana.
    Muesli bar.
    etc.
    Whatever takes the edge from your hunger. it'll be an entirely individual thing as to what sits well while you exercise. Some people can eat lots, some people don't eat at all. Unless you're exercising for a long time at a highish intensity there isn't a requirement as such to eat beforehand - so go with what works for you. The snack or breakky afterwards will assist recovery though.

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  • 2

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    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris ... View Profile

    As John mentioned above, it's very individual to what people can have before exercising, some can tolerate a large meal others only small. My recommendations are that a pre-excercise snack/meal should be:

    • easy to digest
    • low in fat, &
    • high in carbohydrates
    Foods such as a tub of yoghurt + fruit, a bowl of cereal + low fat milk, + small bowl of pasta, or a piece of toast + fruit are all good suggestions. It all depends on your goals as well, if you are looking to lose weight or increase muscle your pre-training snack/meal would change. It's best to consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) or Accredited Sports Dietitian for more specific advice. Log onto either www.daa.asn.au or www.sportsdietitians.com.au to find one in your area

  • 2

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    Dr Richard Wong

    Personal Trainer

    Qualified with a B: Human Movement Science and Certificate. I grew up with sport. I competed succesfully at a state and national level as a ... View Profile

    depends on what your goal is…is your goal to lose weight, increase muscle tone, or get fitter/train for an event.
    if you want to lose weight then i would recomend not eating before breakfast so you can maximise fat burn on a cardio day. if you are performing a weight training session, then you can have a protein shake which will be easy on your stomach and fuel you up for the exercise. if you are training for an event or need energy for a hard training session, then something that you feel comfortable eating or drinking for that matter. possible a protein shake with some carbohydrate in it. it all just will be in accordance to the goal you are trying to achieve and therefore what kind of training session you will doing.

  • 3

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    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris ... View Profile

    The most important thing here is making sure your having a carbohydrate based snack prior to exercise. By doing this you will not only ensure you have enough energy to get through the session but also you will spare muscle protein from being broken down to be used as energy. Protein takes longer to digest and will not provide you with the energy you need to get through the session. Having too much fat before a workout will just make you feel sluggish as it's digestion takes the longest time when compared to carbohydrates and protein.

    As I said earlier your best bet is to seek the professional advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) or an Accredited Sports Dietitian who can further assist with your training goals.

  • 4

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    Core Nutrition is the business of Mrs Elke Supple, Accredited Dietitian & Nutritionist who provides family orientated nutrition consultancy. Elke specialises in weight loss, food ... View Profile

    I totally agree with Chris on this. What you eat prior to exercise - for most gym-goers - should be a carbohydrate snack, and not a protein shake. Most protein shakes are designed to be low in carbohydrates and high in protein - so doesn't neccesarily provide you with the eneryg you need to get through a workout session - especially if you're going to exercising for more than an hour.
    If you don't plan on doing a long session or an intensive workout session, then you may find you don't need a snack at all. Listen to your hunger cues and above all ensure you're well dehydrated over the day so that you don't faint during or after a hard workout.

  • 3

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    Sharon Brooks

    Nutritionist

    Sharon, a Registered Nutritionist RNutr and Food Scientist runs a nutrition consulting business that specialises in proactive nutrition and disease prevention.Sharon runs corporate, school and ... View Profile

    I agree with the comments suggesting a carbohydrate snack prior to exercise. This will contribute to the delivery of energy. High fat or protein snacks/meals prior to exercise often leads to gastrointestinal discomfort. There is plenty of evidence that supports the consumption of carbohydrate consumption as a pre-exercise food.

    I certainly would never recommend bacon, eggs and toast before morning exercise. A banana, berries and yogurt or homemade apple muffin with spelt flour and honey are healthy choices. Perhaps try a few different foods and see what works for you.

    One important consideration is avoid eating immediately before exercise, 30-60 minutes before exercising is best.

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