Eating before a workout - Optimal Time

Cheers… so lower RPE potentially by waiting a bit longer

prob just better watts!

Assume that you are going to do some sort of fueling for a shortish trainer ride, say about 1h. I know many people, including myself, don’t always fuel a workout like this. But let’s assume you do. How much before the start of the workout ‘counts’ and also, how late in the workout makes a difference? For example, lets say I were to eat a bar or gel 15min before I started could that be all I do? How about a snack an hour before?

@Jeff_Soderman, I moved your post under an existing one that is very similar and has good comments to review.

1-1.5 hours before training I don`t eat

It would be nice to wait 3hours but often after work I don’t have time to get home, eat, wait, do the workout and then wind down before sleep.

WfH just now Ive a little more time but leave it 1h30-2h so I am not making noise at a time that’ll upset the neighbours and I can wind down before sleep.

When I am in the office my tact is to have something light like Soreen bread 30-45mins before the work out and eat properly when I am winding down after it.

I’m going to stick this here and ask @Dr_Alex_Harrison if he knows of any human studies.

My spouse is heavily into dog sports. A recent seminar the speaker was talking about fasted dogs. It is not uncommon for folks to fast a dog for 6-12 hours before running them in competition. There is new data suggesting a performance advantage if the dog is fasted for 24 hours prior to competing. The folks working on this think it may have to do with temperature - digesting food produces heat. Particularly on hot days a degree or two of internal temperature decrease could matter. These are dogs pulling loads like sleds so pretty hard work.

Folks who have been around for a while will recall that Lance Armstrong and the Discovery team did some experiments with internal temperature monitoring.

Since we often talk about fueling and how much to eat and when when on the bike, in terms of driving performance, not losing weight, am wondering if anyone has followed this type of work in humans?

Am very cognizant that dogs are not people and that one speaker discussing some of his data is not the same as proven findings.

Personally, I’ve found better performance in tie trials (10s and 25s) when I have eaten lightly the day before and don’t eat much in the mornings. But anecdote isn.t data.

Just for interest and conversation. Am not advocating any fueling approaches.

First thoughts:

  1. Thermoregulation matters.
  2. Thermoregulation could be achieved via other means than kcal and carb restriction.
  3. There are probably psychological/motivational factors within dogs that are not the same as in humans that might be at play here. ie. hungry dogs exhibit more motivation for virtually everything. Much easier to teach a hungry dog new tricks than a dog that isn’t food-motivated.

I am not a dog expert. I do own a dog. He is my n=1 and forms my related opinions above :slight_smile:

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The optimal time could be different for everyone, but research suggests that eating an hour or two before exercise may. My best ratio is 2 hours before.

Also, it depends on what exactly you eat and your nutrition strategy. If that is a classic diet with foods with high protein levels and low sugar content for recovery… 2 hours is optimal.

If you are on a low-carb diet and your next meal is hours away, then eating an hour before the training session might be the best choice.

A few years ago I was on vacation in Andorra and couldn’t get enough energy till the training sessions even I didn’t change my nutrition or time frame of two hours prior to exercise. Still don’t get why. Solved accidentally adding some small amount of honey with water, they had everywhere in the hotel some local honey ‘Le Souffle d’Adore’. That helped to recover my energy and work rate.