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. Hello Heidi,

    Q about this photo, how much are you squatting with here. I squat 20 lbs not including the weight of the bar. Do it once or twice a week, sparing any knee injury. I am 55 young so must take care. How long did it take for you to get to that weight.

  2. I agree, it’s according to your body. I am a diabetic and I have to eat before I workout. If I don’t my blood sugar normally drops. Normally I eat a high protein and carb breakfast beforehand. Thanks for you two do to motivate people to lose. I have lost 125 pounds so far and have 75 pounds to go. Since I have started watching everything, I am just about off all my blood sugar medicine. I am a much happier person now. Thanks again. Melinda Memory

  3. I just started jogging in the pool last Saturday after watch Extreme Weight Loss & just have been watching my intake of calories & have lost 3lbs so far!! I try to jog for at least an hour in the pool if I can! I have a bone disease & this is kinda making my ankles hurt but I’m really trying to work through it!! You & Chris are such an inspiration I really wish I could work with you guys but I know that I don’t have that kind of luck πŸ™

  4. I thought we were supposed to eat within a short time after getting up in the morning to get our metabolism going. If that is the case how does that fit with working out first thing in the morning. I don’t like to eat anything before working out and my morning workouts are usually 60-90 minutes long (I’m one of the crazy one that likes to workout). That means it might be 1 1/2 to 2 hours before I eat after getting up. Does that make a difference?

    Thanks for this post. Other than the above question, it’s very helpful!

  5. Thanks for posting this. I recently asked Chris this question on his FB and he even took the time to respond! I do T25 in the mornings at 3:45 am and never knew if I should eat before working out or after. Chris said to get my 9 minute mission in and then eat and finish the workout later. I’ve recently adjusted and eat a banana before my morning workout and a protein shake after. My evening workout is completely different and I didn’t know how to adjust my eating for the evenings.

  6. Thank you for answering that question. I have another for you. I weigh 185 pounds, 5’9 and I workout hard every day. I have heard a very wide range of how many grams of protein I should eat a day. Could you please give me your insight on this? Thank you so much.

    1. Keep it simple. You don’t have to count calories, carbs, proteins, or anything else if you’re eating the correct portion sizes and good healthy foods like the ones on Chris’ approved food list. If you don’t have the list you can go to and “Join the Transformation”. πŸ™‚

  7. Thanks! I been wondering about that. I also wanted to know if you are carb cycling & had a great low-carb day except for dinner(it was late after kids’ gymnastics, kids still had homework & spaghetti is what the hubby made :$ ), what should your next day be — a high-carb or low-carb day? Thanks

    1. Just stick to your regular schedule. Life happens. Spaghetti sneaks in sometimes. It’s ok. It’s just one meal. Depending on which Carb Cycling plan you’re doing just stick to the plan for the next day. πŸ™‚

  8. This was really helpful! I’ve always wondered if I should eat before I head to gym or not. I usually do because I’m up 1 1/2-2 hrs before I go work out ( I give myself 30-40min after eating) getting my kiddo together fed and situated so I can head to the gym. For my evening workouts I usually have my snack after because I found myself hungry after I was done, plus it works in with eating every three hrs.

  9. I like to eat a snack after exercise, helps my sugar in blood to reach normal level πŸ™‚ otherwise I would eat whole fridge πŸ˜€

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