You might not think much of the carbs you’re eating right before a workout. After all, you need to fuel up before a strenuous session, right?Not so fast because eating carbs immediately before a workout may be sabotaging your fat loss efforts. Here’s the lowdown.
The Myth of Fueling for Fat Loss
Let’s be clear that if you’re training for something specific like a bodybuilding competition or a marathon, you may want to fuel your body right before you start training and if you’re doing so with complex carbs, you could see solid results.
However, if your goal is to lose weight and burn fat, there’s really no need to fuel up immediately before a session. Your trainer has likely set up your workout plan to help your body tap into its fat stores instead of burning carbs.
So, if you eat carbs right before your workout (and we mean downing a granola bar as you walk into the gym), your body has carbs at the ready to be burned (which is helpful if you have low fat levels) but is completely counterproductive if fat loss is your goal.
Without diving too deep into the science, your body actually has to learn how to burn through its fat stores instead of simply burning the sugars your body gets from carbs.
The process is known as glucogenesis where your body creates glucose from proteins and amino acids instead of carbs. And by skipping the carb fuel-up right before your workout, you’re training your body to do just that.
Carbs Can Cause a Sugar Crash
Carbs are quickly converted into sugars (especially if they’re not slow-digesting carbs) which can cause a massive sugar crash which won’t do you any favors.
You’ll be less motivated in your workouts and you’ll simply have less energy to use the correct form or lift heavier weights. When you’re crashing, you probably also won’t push yourself to go the extra mile and you’re far more likely to give up before you’ve done the full strenuous workout you need to stay healthy and fit.
So, skip the pre-workout carbs to avoid these detrimental effects.
Alternatives to Eating Carbs Before a Workout
So, what’s the alternative to eating carbs before a workout? You want to lose fat and avoid a sugar crash right? Here are a few options for what to do instead.
Train in a Fasted State
Your first option is to train in a fasted state. Fasted training is usually the most beneficial if you workout first thing in the morning and since you won’t have any carbs floating around in your system, your body is more likely to use its fat reserves for energy.
Opt for Protein Instead
You can also opt for a protein pre-workout versus anything carb-based and 10 to 15 grams of protein is all you need. Protein or BCAA supplements are the most obvious solution but just be sure to consume them around 30 minutes before your session starts. As a fuel source, you’ll still be training your body to use protein and amino acids for energy instead of carbs.
Go For a Caffeine Boost
Another way to give your body a boost of energy before a workout is to try caffeine from natural sources like coffee or green tea. In the same way that many people drink coffee to start their workday, caffeine as a pre-workout can get you pumped for a workout and give your body the boost you might need while still teaching your body to pull from your fat reserves.
Eat Long Before Your Workout
If you train in the afternoon or evening, that’s totally fine even if you’ve eaten some sort of carbohydrate throughout the day. You can still train your body to burn fat instead by waiting to exercise for about two hours after eating a carb-heavy meal.
At the end of the day, your body is not a car and you don’t need to fuel your body with carbs immediately before using it. In fact, if your goal is fat loss, doing this is completely counterproductive.
Instead, opt for a fasted workout, a protein shake, a caffeine boost as a pre-workout, or wait a while after eating carbs before you exercise.
For more fat loss tips, check out more blog posts here!