To Eat or Not To Eat…Before Exercise?

Should you eat before working out? - Learn more at
I typically eat half of my breakfast before working out, then the 2nd half of my breakfast as I finish.

To Eat or Not To Eat…Before Exercise – that is the question we hear often from people not only following Chris’ Carb Cycling program in his book Choose to Lose but those just working out to stay fit or following their own dietary plan.

The good news is there really isn?t a right or wrong answer to this question! ?Well, that?s helpful,? you?re probably saying. But it?s true. Whether or not you eat before a workout depends on your body, when you exercise, and how long you exercise. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • If you exercise first thing in the morning, you can get away with not eating anything or you can eat a light snack. Some ideas: a banana, a piece of bread (plain or toasted, and whole wheat, of course!), a bit of natural peanut butter, etc.
  • If you workout later in the day, it?s probably best to wait 30-45 minutes after eating before you exercise, and even longer if your last meal was on the heavy side.
  • If your workout is longer than 60 minutes, it?s a good idea to eat a light snack before exercising because you don?t want your body to run out of energy before your workout is finished.
  • What works best for me is to split my meal in two and eat half before I exercise and half after I?m finished. That way I have some extra energy for my workout.

One caution: Some people experience nausea or, shall we say, ?intestinal distress? if they eat before exercising, so if you choose to eat pre-workout, start small and gauge how your body reacts.

And the most important thing to remember is to listen to your body. Figuring out what works best for you might take a little bit of trial and error, but once you figure it out, you?ll be good to go. Literally.

78 Responses

  1. I completely agree. If I workout in the morning I snack really light just to give me that boost of energy and at night I make sure there is a full hour between my workout and eating

  2. Thanks Heidi! I chose this as my favorite blog. This has always been a huge question of mine. When I read this a while ago, I decided to try a few things and see what works for me. I usually have a green drink first thing every morning, packed with veggies! Sometimes that’s enough for me. But lately I’ve added half a multi-grain english muffin to my heavy weight training days like legs, or days I plan on doing longer cardio. It has helped with not only my energy level, but calming my hunger pains after my workout until I get home. Thanks for all your awesome advice!

  3. This is what I have wanted to ask about. Thank you for the tips, I have been doing what you do with eating half before and half after exercising. Thank you so very much for all that you and Chris do to inspire everyone! Keep up the great work! : )

  4. I am so glad I came across this post! I am reading “Choose More, Lose More For Life” and was trying to figure out how to eat every 3 hours when I get up at 5am and work out at 5:30am every day. I could tell a definite slump of energy when my workouts last longer than an hour but didn’t want that full feeling from breakfast at 5. Is it ok to eat a banana on a Low Carb day? Is there something better you recommend? Thank you so much for all you do!

  5. It is very early on in my journey to change my life and meet my fitness goals so this post really interested me because it’s something I’m dealing with now as I figure out what best works for me, I’ve been trying to work out every day around the same time but that isn’t working so well.

  6. Hello Heidi i can not train on a empty stomach but i make sure i eat 1-2 hours before my work out i need my blood in my muscles not in my tummy trying to break my food down.massive thank you to you and chris are inspiration to millions! I am traveling out to America next year to work as a PT cant wait!!! xxxxx

  7. Thank you for that, i am always wondering what is best. I am just now reading Chris’s book Choose to lose and am wondering how important it is to work out the morning vs in the evening. Mornings and I do not get along so evenings will work better for me. Just wondering what you suggestions are. Thank you, you and Chris are such an inspiration.

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