Eat or fast - How do you maximise the benefits of your exercise or fitness routine?

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Eat or fast?

How do you maximise the benefits of your exercise or fitness routine? Apart from practising a healthy lifestyle that includes what you eat, what’s also important is when to eat!

So, should you eat before hitting the gym or will that defeat the purpose of working out?

Eat less, lose more

The basic Science behind successful weight loss is not complicated. To lose more you have to eat less. But let's not forget the critical fundamental of exercise; you need the energy. If you don’t eat enough, you won’t last the workout and could even run the risk of injuries. It’s like playing tennis with a loosely strung racquet – it will take a more significant effort to hit the ball, and that very effort could result in injuries to your body.

Another reason why it’s not good if you don't eat something pre-workout is that you will tend to overeat after your session. Your body’s energy is depleted, and suddenly instead of eating enough, you find yourself filling up your plate with food and in overabundance to boot!

Eat more, gain more

To build muscles, you need to eat and sometimes, a lot, especially for bodybuilders. Though most of us are not bodybuilders, we still need muscles to perform our basic daily functions. A pre-workout meal will go a long way in not only getting through the session but also in building muscles.

Just remember that sometimes, less is not best because you need to fuel your body to achieve maximum performance and results.

What to eat

Avoid too much fat as it can slow down your metabolism and you’ll end up feeling sluggish halfway through your workout. Protein is good as it helps with muscle recovery and building. What you eat before hitting the gym is also dependent on what time you eat. If it’s 30 minutes to an hour prior, then food containing simple carbs and protein would be good. If you have about 2 hours or so till gym time, a meal that has around 400-500 calories and provides an excellent source of protein would be ideal.

Now that we’ve pretty much ascertained that getting something to eat pre-workout is essential regardless of weight loss or muscle gain, let's look at some food options that can help with your goal. It doesn’t have to be a meal, something simple like a snack would suffice as long as it supplies the necessary fuel for your body


Bananas are perfect to boost glycogen stores and increase blood sugar levels. They are a source of natural sugars, simple carbohydrates, and potassium. Consume them around 30 minutes to an hour before working out.

Oatmeal and porridge

These breakfast favourites are also ideal as pre-workout fuel. They contain complex carbohydrates and an excellent source of soluble fibre. Consume them around 2 hours before working out, and you have a source of slow-releasing energy to power you through your session.


Omelettes are an excellent source of muscle-building protein and amino acids but remember to use whole eggs and egg whites. Consume them around  2 to 3 hours before a workout to avoid muscle catabolism.

There are plenty of other foods that you can and should eat before working out but do take note not to overindulge! The intention of a workout is to help you achieve your body and health goals so doing right is of the utmost importance. And that includes eating right.