6 Signs You are not Eating Healthy Before a Workout

Do you feel dizzy or lightheaded during a workout, you’re not alone. I can definitely say that I’ve been there a handful of times. Usually, I can pinpoint the cause: I ate an early lunch and missed to have a snack before that gym.

As much as I know that I need to fuel properly before a workout, sometimes it’s tough to remember when there are million of other things going on. Then in the workout class, I start feeling a little bit lightheaded and like I need to take a break.

Not eating enough before a workout can do more than make you feel a little woozy during squats. Doing it on regular basis can impact your workout, get in the way of your goals, and cause serious injury if you’re not careful.Always remember, food gives you energy. Whether you’re simply forgetting to eat a pre-workout snack or you actively reducing your caloric intake as part of an overall weight loss plan, you need to make sure you’re giving your body sufficient fuel it needs.

Specifically, carbohydrates are what give you the energy you need for moderate- to high-intensity exercise. If you don’t have enough in your system, you won’t be able to output any significant amount of energy. Whether your goal is to build strength, increase endurance, or lose weight, you need to make sure you’re giving your body the fuel it needs.

I am writing down the top signs which indicate you’re not eating enough before exercising.

1. You’re dizzy or lightheaded.

If you do a moderate-high intensity workout without properly fueling, your blood sugar can drop very low, making you feel dizzy or faint.

You will also likely to feel tired if you’re not giving your body energy, yet are demanding a lot from it during a tough workout. If you get dizzy and lightheaded, you should stop exercising immediately. If you can, eat some form of a quick carbohydrate or sugar—like a banana or glass of juice—which can help raise your blood sugar and let you get back to working out. Dizziness is also a symptom of dehydration, so drink some water too.

Always keep a water bottle handy, during the workout.

If you often feel tired, despite properly fueling and hydrating, it’s worth consulting your doctor.

2. You’re nauseous.

This happens due to dehydration in your body.  If you’re feeling nauseous, think about how much fluid and electrolytes you’ve had so far that day. It could be that you forgot to drink enough water, or maybe you haven’t had enough salt. Being low on electrolytes (like salt) can result in nausea, among other symptoms like muscle cramps and confusion.

I see a lot of healthy active women following really low-sodium diets and drinking a ton of water, but that doesn’t really work when it’s summer and you’re working out. Sodium is an important electrolyte that’s essential for regulating nerve and muscle function in our bodies. When we don’t have enough (usually because we’ve lost it through sweat), our cells can’t send signals properly, and we experience symptoms like cramping, dizziness, headaches, and nausea.

So if you’ve recently cut back on sodium and have been getting nauseous during exercise, try adding some salt back into your diet.  Soups are a healthier option than fried chips since they’re high in sodium but not saturated fat.

3. You don’t want to workout.

If you haven’t had enough food, you won’t like to be working out more. You will be having more pain in muscles and recovery will be very slow.


4. You’re injuring yourself.

This is where things can get dangerous. If you are under-fueling and are not consuming enough calories and/or carbohydrates, you run the risk of low blood sugar. This naturally puts you at higher risk for injury. You could fall or trip while running, or, say, miss a lifting motion when you have weight overhead. So it becomes a necessity to have a proper pre-workout meal.

5. You’re not performing as well as you know you can.

If you haven’t had enough to eat that day, You won’t be able to hold a fast pace on a run and you won’t be able to move through a circuit with as much speed as you normally would.  In general, you’ll probably feel like you can’t work out as hard as you normally do. Which can be really frustrating if you put on your spandex and made it to the gym expecting to get a good workout in.

6. You’re not seeing results.

Whether you’re looking to get stronger, increase your endurance, or lose weight, your success will be impacted if you’re not eating enough. There are a few reasons for this. If you don’t eat enough, your body may start breaking down muscle to use for fuel. When you’re not properly fueled, you may be too tired to push through as many reps.

Finally, depriving your body of the fuel it needs may actually mess with your metabolism and make it harder to lose weight. Your body won’t lose weight if you’re not fueling it right. You’re short-changing it, so your metabolism goes down and your body starts conserving calories.

So when and what should you eat before a workout? Here are some basic guidelines:

Figuring out how soon before a workout you need to eat may take some trial and error. Since everyone’s bodies and metabolisms are different. Depending on what time of day your workout is and what your individual needs are, you can either eat a normal-sized meal two to three hours before a workout or a small snack 30 to 60 minutes beforehand. The meal and/or snack should include both carbohydrates and protein with some fat and fiber. If you’re eating less than an hour before a workout, limit the amount of fat and fiber you eat, as large amounts can slow down digestion and cause stomach cramps or nausea.

In terms of a snack, a banana or slice of toast with some nut butter, or even a hard-boiled egg and a slice of toast, can be a good option.Make sure you’re hydrated, too.

And last, but certainly not least, it’s important to make sure you’re fueling and hydrating throughout the day so “your body can repair, recover, and get stronger from the workout you did previously. Food is necessary for refilling your stores of glycogen—the form of carbohydrate that is stored in your muscles and is quickly accessible for energy during exercise.”

Always listen to your body, give it what it needs, and you’ll be one step closer to reaching your goals, whatever they may be.

Don’t forget to tell us in comments below, what are your inputs on these.


21 Comments on “6 Signs You are not Eating Healthy Before a Workout”

  1. I do not work out but I think I should do it but not being able to take out time for it nowadays. Will try to be regular once my son joins nursery.

  2. I’ve just started working out every morning by running. I usually hike, so my legs are pretty strong but I’m definitely feeling the burn! I make sure to drink a lot of water like you advise…I’m wondering what you think about intermittent fasting though? I always work out on an empty stomach in the mornings before breaking my fast at lunch.

  3. Excellent post. I learned so much. Thanks! I wondered why I just didn’t feel like exercising the way I used to. I think now I may know why.

  4. I definitely don’t exercise enough and that is something that I need to work on . Thank you for reminding me to drink more water and replace salts in my body as well! x

  5. Yes! Normally I only eat a banana before hitting the gym but once I forgot and after doing my thing for about 15 min I was about to pass out! Afterwards, I was completely shaking all over. Luckily I live just next door so I grab the first thing I could eat. Never again!

  6. I agree with all points here. These are simple and should be done with dedication. And do not think about results. You will get noticed by results suddenly.

  7. Fantastic tips and advice! It’s SO important to nourish the body, and especially so when working out. It’s crazy what a difference a good meal makes. Thanks for sharing your wisdom

Don't forget to share your thoughts.