Just wondering if there's any information on training on an empty stomach and eating afterwards vs training on a full stomach? I have heard (no sources) that eating a proper balanced meal after a workout is 'optimal'.

When pressed for time I often put off eating even when very hungry in favour of doing a workout and then cooking / eating afterwards.

What is the better situation?

  1. Training when actively hungry, (perhaps with a protein shake before training) then cooking and eating a meal in the hour afterwards


  1. Training within an hour after recently eaten, (perhaps with a protein shake after training)
  • I think you're going to get primarily opinions on this question.
    – rrirower
    Nov 13, 2014 at 20:18
  • Whats your goal? Honestly, unless you are a professional athlete nutrition timing is much less important that consistency in your diet and exercise regime.
    – user2861
    Nov 13, 2014 at 22:37
  • I was just curious if anyone has come across research papers on something like this.
    – myol
    Nov 14, 2014 at 12:17
  • What sort of goal are you looking at? Fat-loss? Hypertrophy?
    – john3103
    Nov 14, 2014 at 20:27

2 Answers 2


Whether or not you eat before a workout is relatively unimportant, but there has been a lot of debate about working out in a "fasted" state (such as a morning run before breakfast). It's a method used by bodybuilders, models, the military, etc. to keep lean.

According to this article, which has some very good information and links to various studies, there is a fair amount of evidence to suggest that doing cardio in a fasted state can increase fat-burning by up to 20%, but the long-term effects are less noticeable. In addition, resistance-training in a fasted state may hinder your performance and cause a breakdown of muscle fibers.

It is better to eat and drink immediately after exercise, especially after prolonged or high-intensity workouts.

Generally, you want to take in about 20g of protein and some carbs after any workout, particularly resistance-training, sprints, and high-intensity cardio. This is the point at which your muscles are in their greatest state of recovery, and having a high-protein environment is important for that. Some people may choose to take BCAA in lieue of a post-workout meal. As long as you eat some complete protein or take BCAA, it should speed up muscle-recovery. If you take creatine, it's also recommended that this be done immediately after a workout.


For a general workout of 60-90 minutes (not a competitive event such as a triathlon), it doesn't matter. The reason is because your body stores enough carbohydrates to fuel moderate/high intensity activity for approximately that long. Longer than that, however, and you will need to supply additional fuel.

Much of your body's physical adaptation to your training occurs at night when you sleep. Therefore, it is important that you don't go to bed hungry. It's ok to workout hungry though.

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