With how much different information there is out there regarding topics in the health and fitness industry, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with where to start, or where to even continue for the next step. 

To help on the journey, I have rounded up the most common fitness questions I have come across as a trainer; involving when to do cardio, whether or not to eat back calories burned, and eating before working out.  Let’s roll.

common fitness questions: cardio before or after workout, should I eat before a workout, should I eat back the calories I burn exercising?

1. Cardio Before or After Weights

This is a question that has been long asked among gym beginners, and for good reason!  I’m guessing that you’ve heard that you need to warm-up, which generally involves doing some type of cardio.  Well if you have to warm-up, why not just do all your cardio before you leave your treadmill for the fitness piranhas to snatch up right after you’re done?

Well, there’s a good reason why you should wait to do cardio until after you’ve done your weight lifting.  Here’s why: if you do all your cardio before you lift weights, you’re wearing down your muscles before you even get to the actual weight training portion. 

Why does this matter?  One massive reason is if you’re wanting to get 1RM (1 rep maxes), or if you’re wanting to really push it to the limits.  Instead of having all of your energy specifically for the lifts you plan to max out on, you just fatigued your muscles with the cardio.  This leads to not as good max amounts, and quicker fatigue.  Not good.

Now, just to confuse you, I am going to say there is an exception to this rule from my standpoint (I’m not actually trying to confuse you, I’m not mean!)  I’m going to use an example.  Let’s say that you could really care less about getting 1RM, and you actually just want to increase speed on your runs, or you’re training for some sort of race. 

In this case, I find it completely acceptable to do your cardio first.  Here’s the trick for this question, do whatever you want to improve, first.  You are not going to want to fatigue your muscles in any sense of the word, before getting to what you actually want to improve on.  Cool?  Awesome, let’s move on to the next question.

2. Should I Eat Back the Calories I Burn Exercising?

The simple answer to this question is no.  If you are trying to lose fat, the more you are in a caloric deficit, the more likely you are going to lose weight.  This is actually one thing I absolutely hate about some fitness watches/fitness apps. 

I cannot tell you how many instances I’ve seen my clients just in absolute confusion as to why they aren’t losing weight but are exercising more.  It’s because they continually ate back the calories that their fitness watch said they burned during exercise.  Stahp it.

Another reason to not add those bad boys back in?  A lot of times, we overestimate how much we’re eating, and how much we’ve burned by exercise.  My recommendation is to juuuust leave it.  Know your calories for the day, and stick to that number.  You’ll be better off in the long run.

3. Eating Before a Workout

I’m gonna be honest with you, this one is completely individual preference.  I am someone who hates eating before working out.  I have gotten so used to fasted exercise that I normally get sick if I try to eat anything beforehand.  That and I workout super early in the morning, so literally roll out of bed and go to the gym.

If you are someone who works out ridiculously hard, take a high intensity class, or work with a personal trainer, normally it is recommended to eat at least something before going to said workout.  Why? Because you are normally working out so hard that you don’t want to pass out.  If you are someone who still doesn’t like the idea of eating something beforehand but are also afraid of keeling over during the gym sesh, put some aminos in your water.  That’ll help.

Like I said, it’s preference.  If you are working out pretty hard and feel like you need fuel for your workout, try a slice of wheat bread.  That’s a go-to for me that I know won’t make me wanna puke but also fuels my workout if I know I’m going to have an extra long session or a long run that day.

Key for this one?  Do what feels right to you.  What works best for you might be different than what works for someone else and that’s totally fine.

4. When Should I Work Out?

I get this question a lot, and I promise you, there is no magical time during the morning, afternoon, or night where you are going to perform better than another time.  My go-to answer on this is go when you are going to stay consistent, because success happens when you’re consistent. 

If you can’t bear to get out of bed an hour earlier than you already do in the morning, go after work, or at night.  If you constantly have social events at night and can hardly make it to the gym, go during your lunch hour.  If you continually make excuses that you have no time at all to go, cut the crap.  If billionaires can find the time to work out, then you can too.  Stop being a weenie and just do it.  Commit and don’t let yourself have any excuses to not get it done.

Conclusion

All in all, you’ll learn that although there is a lot of information out there, the best thing to do is figure out what works out for you.  There is so much trial and error when it comes to health and fitness.  I can give you tips and tricks, but figure out what works for you.  When you do that, you are well on your way to success!  Just keep at it, friends.  I have full faith in you 😊

Until next time!