How Eating A High-Protein Meal Can Boost Your Exercise Results

If you work out in the mornings, you may tend to skip breakfast in favor of a heavier meal after you exercise. However, you may be compromising the efficiency of your workout. A new study in the journal Nutrients has determined that consuming a high-protein meal before a workout can suppress hunger and fuel fat-oxidation better than exercising on an empty stomach.

Researchers observed a small sample of 43 adults between the ages of 18 and 35, differentiating the groups by what they consumed prior to their workouts. One group was provided with a carb-heavy breakfast; the other group was given a meal high in protein. Both men and women burned more fat and showed a marked decrease in hunger after forty minutes of exercise. Other studies have documented increased protein synthesis, better muscle growth and recovery, improvements in strength, and increased performance when protein is consumed before exercise (via Healthline).

What and when should I eat before my workout?

Study participants were given a high-protein meal replacement made up of olive oil, low-fat milk, and a soy-protein supplement. The mixture was approximately 43 percent protein — roughly three times higher than the breakfast the control group received (via Eat This, Not That!).

The time of day you eat can also impact your workout. If you're working out in the morning, you should try to eat thirty minutes before you hit the gym (via Self). The idea is to give your stomach a chance to digest the meal, but not to wait so long that you can't use the calories consumed to fuel your workout. Plenty of water (before, during, and after exercising) will help you perform better and stay full longer as well.

Keep in mind that even though a protein-filled pre-workout snack will keep you feeling full longer, it's still important to eat after your workout. According to Self, you should replenish nutrients with complex carbohydrates and, of course, more protein.