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Is it better to eat before or after working out?

You should definitely eat a snack before you hit the gym. You need the energy to work out hard, so you’ll ultimately burn more calories.

You should never eat before you hit the gym. You’re going there to burn the calories you already have in your body, stored as fat! Why would you slow that process down?

If you’ve heard both sides of the argument over whether you should eat before you go the gym, you’re probably pretty confused. What does science say?

The New York Times’ Well Blog found a study that showed working out in a “fasted state” — after you’ve slept and haven’t eaten in a number of hours — is the best time to work out to stave off weight gain.

The study had three groups of healthy men eat a diet that consisted of 30 percent more calories and 50 percent more fat than they normally ate, Well explains. One group ate this new diet while avoiding exercise. One group at the diet and worked out really hard after they ate breakfast. The third group at the diet and worked out first thing in the morning, before eating anything.

No surprise, the sedentary group gained weight. The group that worked out after breakfast gained a little less weight — but the group that worked out before breakfast gained none.

Additionally, the men who worked out in a fasted state burned more fat throughout the day than the others.

This study is more concerned with weight gain — but it seems to show that working out before you eat can do more than just burn calories.