Exercise and Eating: Myths vs. Facts



Fruits with measure

Photo by: Diamantis Seitanidis

Diamantis Seitanidis

Trying to get more activity but not sure where food comes in? Figure out the best way to fuel your exercise sessions by busting these five common myths.

Myth: Only eat protein after a workout.

Fact: Exercise enthusiasts often over-prioritize protein after exercise. While protein is vital for building and maintaining muscle, you can't get the job done without healthy carbs on board too.

Choose any of these recovery foods to give your body exactly what it craves post workout.

Myth: It's better to exercise on an empty stomach.

Fact: An empty stomach means an empty fuel tank.  Ideally, aim to eat a well-balanced meal three to four hours before exercise so you have plenty of energy to burn. If you're more pressed for time, grab a sensible snack that you have time to digest before you get going.

Myth: Skip breakfast if you exercise early in the morning.

Fact: For some people, it's easiest to get exercise out of the way bright and early. Problem is, it's been hours since you ate anything. Grab something light like a banana or handfuls of dry cereal. That will be just enough to get your metabolism revved up, and you'll get a better workout.

Myth: Drink caffeine before exercise for extra energy.

Fact: Do you grab a cup of coffee instead of food before activity? If so, you're making a huge mistake. Don't confuse that short-lived jolt for fuel. Only food provides sustained energy that you can burn throughout the exercise session.

Myth: Hydration doesn't affect energy levels.

Fact: Actually it's quite the opposite! Not getting enough fluid is one of the leading causes of fatigue during exercise. To keep fluid levels in check, you must drink, before, during and after strenuous activity.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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