Will a pre-meal provide better results for aerobic exercise and weight loss?
There has been conflicting advice on whether to eat or not to eat before completing an aerobic training session. As a result you as the aspiring fitness sensation end up doing what makes you feel good when you train. Guess what That's exactly what you should do!
Now, before you go ahead and indulge in those unnecessary fatty and salty foods (because it makes you feel good) let's explore the reasons behind why it's OK to choose either option and find out the necessary eating strategies for optimal energy during exercise and the whole day.
- Your performance is not changed with either fasted or pre meal when engaging in moderate intensity activity
Improved performance will yield greater adaptations to your body, hence an increase in weight loss. So far the evidence shows no significant difference in the performance of a moderate level aerobic workout when compared with either fasted or non-fasted state. However there is evidence that show greater performance when taking a pre-carbohydrate meal for when training at higher intensities (above 70% of V02max) such as weight training and interval training (sprints). Think about how hard your working and this will dictate your eating strategies.
2. Your overall energy expenditure is not changed with either fasted or pre meal and will have no significant difference to overall weight loss
Some studies show that being in a fasted state induces greater fat utilization which in turn results with greater weight loss. But other studies show no significant difference because the total energy expenditure (carbs, protein, fat etc) despite more use from fat fuels, show no difference in overall weight loss in either state.
So when we look at the general fitness aerobic regime (<70% intensity), eating or not prior to training won't have that much of a difference to your body's overall fuel usage. Some may find it difficult not eating before training especially if it's been a while since their last meals. Maintaining your required dietary intake throughout the day is sufficient enough and you don't require snacking before exercise. For those that do however, here are some strategies to assist you:
- Take a high GI/GL (glycemic index/load) fuel 30min prior to training such as Sports drinks and energy bars
- Throughout the day take a meal high in carbohydrate (approx. 1-2hrs before training) so that your blood sugars are high enough to keep your energy levels up
- Including some protein and fibre during the day will assist in slowing down the breaking down of fuels in your body.