Should You Eat Before a Workout? Or After? That May Depend on Your Gender, Study Says

Should You Eat Before a Workout? Or After? That May Depend on Your Gender, Study Says

Should you eat before a workout if you want to burn fat? Or is after the better choice? Well, are you male or female? Because it matters, says new research out of the UK.

According to the BBC's “Trust Me I'm A Doctor” program, University of Surrey, England, researchers noted that the benefits of exercise varied for men and women, particularly when they ate a meal—before or after the workout, reports the Daily Mail.

Researchers recruited 30 volunteers: 13 men and 17 women who weren’t normally very active. The subjects committed to an exercise regimen, taking three fitness classes a week for four weeks-- a high intensity training class, Zumba and a spin class. The researchers measured how much fat the volunteers burned at the beginning and end of the experiment, including how much fat they burned while resting. They also measured blood fat and blood sugar levels as well as waist size.

The participants were asked to consume a beverage before and after class that was either a calorie-controlled carbohydrate drink or a calorie-free placebo.

What the researchers noted was rather interesting: when women consumed the carbohydrates before the workout, they burned more fat than the men by as much as 22 percent more. 

For the men, the opposite was true; in general they burned less fat, and after the workout caloric intake helped them to burn 8 percent more fat overall.

The reason may have something to do with how muscles store carbohydrates. Because men are naturally more muscly than women, if they push more carbs into their bodies before a workout, the body will burn through those (since there is already the reserve in the muscles) and never burn the fat.

For women, the researchers noted eating carbohydrates before the workout is ideal, and if fat-burning is the goal, wait at least 90 minutes after exercising before eating. In fact, the researchers note that eating too early after a workout can stop the (female) body’s fat-burning process, essentially undoing all the exercise if the goal is weight loss.

And to maximize weight loss efforts, combine a slow carbohydrate such as a whole grain, legume, or not-to-sweet fruit, with a high protein food, such as whey protein.

image: whologwhy

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