Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


What is a good pre-workout meal for morning strength training, and how long do I have to wait after eating to work out?
September 30, 2010 8:00 AM   Subscribe

What is a good pre-workout meal for morning strength training, and how long do I have to wait after eating to work out?

Hi,
I'm a girl who plans on strength training early in the morning (5:30 am). I've been reading that I should wait an HOUR after I eat to work out. I can't really spare an HOUR in the morning as I'm already pressed for time. I'm hoping I can wait 15 minutes after my meal to work out, but I'm curious:

- Is there a reason I should wait an hour to work out if I'm eating a small meal (25 grams of carbs, 10-15 grams of protein- either oatmeal and eggs, or a protein shake)?
- Will my body destroy muscle tissue for energy if I don't wait after I eat?
- What makes a good work out meal, complex (oats) or simple (white bread) carbs if I'm planning to work out close to my meal?

Other info: I'm working out at home with free weights and prefer morning work outs.
posted by metakiwi to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Additional info: I plan on alternating strength and cardio days. For cardio I do HIIT cycling on my bicycle trainer.
posted by metakiwi at 8:03 AM on September 30, 2010


Something like an energy bar and water or a handful of almonds and water is a good meal before a workout. It'll keep you going make you feel less tired.

After a workout, especially an intense one, you should eat as soon as possible. You don't have to wait. In fact, there's a window of time right after the workout in which your body is primed to absorb nutrients and rebuild. Here's some example meals and other background about pre-workout and post-workout meals:
THE PREWORKOUT MEAL (c. 10 minutes before exercise)

This is a chance to get some liquid, fuel (sugar and carbohydrates) and electrolytes into your body before your workout, giving it something to burn up and sweat out. The addition of a small amount of protein helps limit muscle breakdown. A typical preworkout meal might consist of:

12 oz of water
20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates (glucose, sucrose and/or maltodextrin)
5 to 10 grams of protein (e.g. whey protein)
electrolytes (mostly sodium, potassium and magnesium)

THE POSTWORKOUT MEAL (within 45 minutes of finishing exercise)

This feeding gets nutrients into your body at a time when it needs them most and also when it is most receptive to them (the ‘anabolic window’ window again). A typical postworkout meal might look like this:

Lots of water
20 to 30 grams protein
80 to 100 grams carbohydrate
electrolytes (e.g. sodium, potassium, magnesium)
posted by ignignokt at 8:19 AM on September 30, 2010


What kind of weight training are you doing?

I usually workout within 30 minutes of eating because I don't have time to wait. I typically eat a shake for breakfast consisting of a scoop of protein (30 grams of protein), 1/2 cup of 2% milk, 1/2 cup oats, and half a banana. I don't believe there is in any harm in working out right after eating although I find it a little uncomfortable if my stomach is full.

It is very important to get your post workout shake within 15-30 minutes of your workout if possible. Mine is usually a 1/2 scoop of protein and a 1/2 scoop of waxy maize.
posted by useyourmachinegunarm at 9:03 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, I weight train and my protein goal is 180 grams per day. I try to eat 6 meals a day with 30 grams of protein in each meal. This will vary depending on what exactly you are doing, your size, etc.
posted by useyourmachinegunarm at 9:06 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you for your answers! I'm doing strength training to stay fit and healthy, along with cardio. I'm not looking to gain size. I think the max weight I can do is 30 lbs lol My routine is mostly free weights, exercise ball and resistance.
posted by metakiwi at 10:16 AM on September 30, 2010


I think my main concern is that since this is after I wake up, my stomach will be empty, and I'm afraid that my body doesn't have enough time to digest and use the meal I just ate for my work out, and instead my body will start using muscle tissue for energy (after other energy stores are used up of course).
posted by metakiwi at 10:19 AM on September 30, 2010


Simple carbs and some protein are the way to go. I just read a detailed post from a top tier natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder advocating fruit juice + whey protein as an ideal pre-workout meal.

You don't need to wait before you workout. Dive right in. Don't obsess about trivial differences; it really doesn't matter if you work out right away, wait 15 minutes, wait an hour--whatever.
posted by Khalad at 11:46 AM on September 30, 2010


There's no need to wait after eating. I frequently eat almost immediately before heavy lifting. I've never had a problem because I ate too much before lifting, but I've definitely had problems caused by eating too little.

And unless you're training for the circus, don't waste your time with the exercise ball.
posted by JohnMarston at 12:59 PM on September 30, 2010


- Is there a reason I should wait an hour to work out if I'm eating a small meal (25 grams of carbs, 10-15 grams of protein- either oatmeal and eggs, or a protein shake)?

The only reason people wait is so they don't throw up or have some kind of GI disturbance. If you can, go ahead and eat whenever.

- Will my body destroy muscle tissue for energy if I don't wait after I eat?

No. Your body takes a long time to build muscle and eating won't destroy it (or the process) and in most cases will help

- What makes a good work out meal, complex (oats) or simple (white bread) carbs if I'm planning to work out close to my meal?

Simple carbs and a lot of digestible protein. A good protein shake is best.
The current trend is based on peri-workout nutrition. Which just means grabbing a shake and start drinking just previous, sipping it through out, and finishing the last half just after you finish your workout. Some protein drinks are specifically made for this.

A lot of people like to eat oats, as they serve a purpose of a carb source and extra rouhgage that people may not be getting in their diet. I generally don't eat them. I don't want to negate the essential fats (fish oil caps and flax oil) I eat with oat's absorbent quality. Flaxseed meal is an great replacement and works just as well as roughage. It also has obvious benefits. It has a nutty flavor that mixes just fine into most fruity shakes, especially if you also add a healthy peanut (or almond) butter.

My workout shake is usually really simple as I'm looking to get some simple carbs and some good protein into my body, so I just shake up a scoop or four.

My between meal protein shakes generally consists of
-A good protein (I like Biotest products like Metabolic Drive because I know and trust how it will work. You can find cheaper products. Shop around but you may get what you pay for.)
-Yogurt
-Cottage Cheese (maybe)
-Adams Peanut Butter
-Bob's Redmill Flaxseed Or Flaxseed Oil
-Usually a combo of Strawberries, Blackberries, Blueberries
Sometimes I toy around with other things to get more protein but usually I can get anywhere from 40 to 70ish grams per shake.

If you like working with the Swiss ball, use it.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:09 PM on September 30, 2010


"I've been reading that I should wait an HOUR after I eat to work out."

Where on earth did you read this? That's the opposite of everything I've ever heard - eating as soon as you can after a workout is considered idea. I do heavy workouts in my apartment in the morning (start 5:30, finish around 6:30) and I sometimes start cooking eggs while I'm stretching so I literally eat 2 minutes after I'm done. Ignore that advice and eat as quickly as you want.
posted by Tehhund at 2:20 PM on September 30, 2010


« Older Please share some tasty vegan ...   |  How do I start and sustain a s... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.