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Can I Eat During the Middle of a Workout?

Yiwen Lu, MS, RD, CPT
May 26, 2023
May 26, 2023

Are you feeling fatigued or hungry during your workouts? Wondering whether eating during exercise could boost or hurt your performance? Keep reading, or watch our video, to learn why it's essential to fuel your body during exercise and discover the best foods to consume before, during, and after your workouts for peak performance.

Can I Eat During the Middle of a Workout?

The short answer is - yes, it can be beneficial to eat during a workout, especially if you're engaging in intense physical activity, such as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for more than one hour. However, generally, you do not need a mid-workout snack if you’re just doing something less strenuous, such as walking or light stretching that lasts less than an hour. To determine the intensity of a workout, refer to this article.

What To Eat Before, During, and After Workouts?

Although it's not always necessary to eat during a workout, it's crucial to properly fuel your body before and after exercising. Eating before a workout can help provide the energy you need to perform your best during the session. On the other hand, consuming a post-workout snack or meal is essential for muscle recovery and growth. To help you choose the right food, we've put together 3 lists of some nutritious options:

Before Workouts

Choose easily digestible carbs, protein, and healthy fat preferably 30 minutes to 1 hour before workouts:

  • Banana, an apple, or other fruits with nut butter
  • Oatmeal with fruits and granola
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Whole grain toast with nut butter

During Workouts

Choose easily digestible carbs in small portions:

  • Banana, an apple, or other fruits
  • Non-fat plain yogurt
  • Fruit smoothie

After Workouts

Choose a meal that contains carbs and lean protein, preferably within 2 hours after workouts:

  • Chicken with sweet potato and vegetables
  • Tilapia with white rice and vegetables
  • Quinoa chickpea Salad
  • Non-fat plain yogurt with fruits and granola

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Takeaways

It is not necessary to eat during the middle of a workout if it is less than an hour long. However, if you plan to engage in intense workout for more than 1 hour, eating some simple carbs during the middle of a workout might help maintain your blood sugar levels, improve endurance, and prevent fatigue. Also, keep in mind that everyone has different tolerance to eating before and during the middle of a workout, so experiment with different foods and timing to find what works best for you.

If you have diabetes and take insulin, it's crucial to understand the optimal timing for insulin injections, meals, and exercise. Check out this article to learn more about managing your insulin regimen for better blood sugar control.