Should I Exercise Right After Eating a Huge Dinner?


question-icon-newI’m going to start my workout plan tomorrow as I am now at a hotel with a good fitness center. Anyway, I like to eat really big and unhealthy dinners. My question is should I workout right after dinner to turn those calories into muscle or should I workout first thing in the morning? Should I exercise before eating or after eating?

answer-icon-newYou definitely don’t want to workout right after eating a huge dinner. Your body will be trying to digest your food and you will most likely be tired and lethargic while training. Always try to limit your dinner to a smaller meal with more protein and veggies versus starchy carbs. Your insulin levels are less sensitive at night so it’s smart to cut down on high glycemic carbs such as rice, pasta, bread and potatoes. Eating a huge dinner will have a tendency to add body fat to your physique because later in the day your metabolism starts to slow down and you don’t need to eat an overabundance of food before going to bed.

In my opinion, the most ideal time to workout is in the morning right after waking up. The reasons for this are numerous. First off, by doing your workout in the morning you are able to have your mind fresh and totally focused on just one thing, and that is getting in a great workout session. You will avoid worrying or stressing about random work projects, the kids, the spouse, household tasks and any other thing that can cloud your head. If you put off your workouts until later in the day, you might have the tendency to procrastinate and do a bunch of other things. This usually means that you end up totally missing your workout since you’re just too busy or too tired to fit it in. This issue happens to so many people and they say, “I’m just too tired at the end of the day” which is absolutely true because you’re doing so many things and just have an overload of stimuli. On top of it, if you have any type of labor intensive job, forget about it! You will just be too drained and all you will want to do is crash on the couch, turn on the TV and grab some potato chips and a soda. If you’re a person who is just too tired in the morning, try to get over that mindset since it only takes about 3-4 days of doing morning workouts in order to adapt to the new regimen.

The other reason why working out in the morning is beneficial is because your testosterone levels are the highest at this time and you will be burning calories throughout the day due to the intense workout. Later in the day, your body’s testosterone levels start to drop. So, you want to maximize your workouts around the ideal time of the day in order to take advantage of your natural spike in hormones in order to pack on lean muscle and burn fat.

What To Eat Before Your Workout?
protein-shakes-workoutsYour pre-workout meal should consist of a light meal of protein and carbs to provide energy for a hard workout. If you’re a person who likes to eat a solid meal in the morning, a great pre-workout meal would be ½ cup of oatmeal with 1 scoop of whey protein powder. This provides about 30 grams of carbs and 25 grams of fast acting protein. If you don’t like to eat a solid meal before your workout, drink a liquid meal (protein smoothie) in the morning consisting of 1 scoop of whey protein powder with 2 cups of water and 1 banana. If you want to include a complex carb instead of fruit, you can choose to blend up ½ cup of instant oatmeal in place of the banana. Drink this protein smoothie about 20-30 minutes before your weight training workout for optimal results. It’s important to remember to only eat carbs for your pre-workout meal if you will be lifting weights. If you will only be doing morning cardio without weight training, then you can have 1 scoop of whey protein powder with some water for your pre-workout meal. Another option is to use a BCAA (branched chain amino acid) supplement to provide your muscles with amino acids to make sure you don’t sacrifice any muscle tissue during your cardio workout. The important thing about avoiding carbs before doing cardio is because by limiting carbs, you will force your body to tap into your fat stores for energy while you workout. If you eat carbs before cardio, your body will need to burn up those carbs as the primary fuel source before tapping into your fat stores, which could take 20-30 minutes or even longer. So, the best thing to do is cut out carbs if you’re only doing cardio in the morning to get the best fat burning results. If you will be lifting weights, then it’s important to have some carbs pre-workout since they will provide you with energy to get through your intense workout.

What To Eat After Your Workout?
Your post-workout meal should consist of more fast acting whey protein with some high glycemic carbs in order to spike your insulin levels and rush the nutrients into your muscles and refill your glycogen stores. A liquid meal works best after your workout since it doesn’t need to take time to digest like a solid meal would. 2 scoops of whey protein powder with some fruit or other fast acting carbohydrate like dextrose or maltodextrin works well. Since you want to drink your post-workout shake immediately after your workout is over, it’s always smart to make your protein shake before heading off to the gym. Put it in a shaker bottle or thermos and then you can have it ready to drink right after you get done working out. This period after your workout is called the “window of opportunity” and it’s critical that you get the correct nutrients to your muscles in order to help them recover and grow after your weight training session.

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    Yes, it’s fine. You don’t need a long winded answer here. But obviously there are preferable times. Is your dinner making you “lethargic”? If so, then you’re not eating at an optimum level. Also can you workout after dinner? If so, then do it. Is it better than NOT working out at all? YES!

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    Love the fact that you understand how a person feels like after a tiresome day at work, which is kind of every day for me. Thanks for the boost of confidence!

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