ask our dietitian your question todayshould you eat before you workout


What happens when you exercise soon after eating a meal? Does it make you gain weight in any kind of way? -Paquil



Well, the primary results of exercising immediately after eating a full meal are feeling sluggish and possibly getting abdominal cramps. The experience is different for everyone. After eating, your body is trying to work on digesting, absorbing and assimilating the food ingested. Throw physical activity on top of that and your muscles are in a battle for attention!

Here’s what happens — Ingestion of a meal calls upon increased blood flow to the gut to transport the digested nutrients. When skeletal muscles are engaged the blood flow is redirected to them, compromising the digestive process.

Why it’s not a good idea — Aside from a decrease in athletic performance, feeling sluggish or getting cramps can be dangerous during certain activities such as lifting heavy free weights, rock climbing, and swimming.

Find out more about meal/exercise timing by clicking HERE and HERE.

As far as an effect on your weight, it is possible that repeated over a long period of time, eating your meals prior to exercise will prevent you from using stored fuel for muscle work, thus inhibiting weight loss. Your muscles will get their energy from the calories you’ve consumed instead of utilizing body fat. As long as your total physical activity burns as many calories as you take in, I can’t see how there would be any gain in weight.

Exercise is good for the body. Food is good for the body. You just need to use food to your advantage to optimize the exercise you’re doing. For best results in weight reduction, leave at least couple hours after a full meal before working out, or only have a small snack just prior to exercise.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition?

Ask our dietitian by submitting your question to or simply ask it in the COMMENTS section below. To learn how to follow the “Ask Our Dietitian” Q&A CLICK HERE!

Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.



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