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Eat Before Exercising?

Don't swim right after you eat if you are in terrible shape, but if you're reasonably fit, don't exercise too intensely in the beginning, and stop if you feel belly pain, you're better off eating.

When your stomach fills with food, its muscles contract and require large amounts of blood. When you exercise vigorously, your heart pumps large amounts of blood to your skeletal muscles. If your heart is not strong enough to pump blood to both your stomach and your skeletal muscles, blood is shunted from your stomach muscles, the muscles lack oxygen, lactic acid builds up in muscles and they start to hurt. Most people can exercise after eating without suffering cramps because their hearts are strong enough to pump blood to both their exercising and stomach muscles.

If you are going to exercise for more than an hour, you have to eat or your muscles and liver will run out of sugar. Your liver must constantly release sugar from its cells into your bloodstream, and there is only enough sugar in your liver to last about an hour when you exercise vigorously. So, eating before exercising can help you to exercise longer.

International J of Sports Medicine 1989;10:S68-S75

Med and Science in Sports and Exercise 1993(May);25(5)Suppl:S191

Checked 8/31/08

May 12th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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