Some swear by a certain type of protein shake . Others have a pre-workout supplement cocktail with a long list of unpronounceable ingredients. Then there are those who scoff at the idea of eating when they're even thinking about a workout.

The question of whether or not to eat before a workout can be a hazy mess of misconceptions and misinformation. But what you're eating (or drinking) before a workout can have a dramatic effect on your performance during a workoutand how your body responds after a workout.

Your diet, after all, is the fuel that powers your fitness goals, be it weight loss, muscle gain, improved endurance, or athletic performance.

Given the importance of exercise nutrition, it's important to trust real experts instead of the so-called "experts" spouting off advice in and around the gym.

That's why we talked to two nutrition experts to break down the most common mythsGabrielle Mancella, a registered dietitian at Orlando Health, and Marie Spano , a registered dietician and Sports Nutritionist for the Atlanta Braves, Hawks, and Falconsand to clear the air on the topic.

Long story short: If youre not eating before your workouts, there are plenty of reasons you should start, ASAP.

Myth #1: Eating before a workout doesnt make sense if you're trying to lose weight.

Young man stading on scale in locker room
Young man stading on scale in locker room
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The math checks outshouldn't less calories going in mean fewer extra pounds? Mancella explained that while on paper, this is true, that weight loss that happens solely from calorie depletion isnt the type of weight loss most of us are looking for. When we focus on just restricting energy consumption, that weight loss, especially at the beginning, is water weight, she told MensHealth.com. That isnt helping us lose fat or build lean muscle mass.

BOTTOM LINE: Even if your goal is weight loss, eating before exercising will help you get more from your effort. Having more successful workouts will help build more muscle and burn more fat.

Myth #2

Eating before a workout is only important if Im doing cardio.

Men Running On Treadmill At Gym
Men Running On Treadmill At Gym
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Seem ridiculous to eat before a 40-minute lifting session? It shouldnt. You need carbohydrates in order to lift hard, Spano explained. I cant really think of a workout where it wouldnt be helpful to have eaten carbohydrates beforehand.

Mancella agreed. The point of eating before a workout is to provide energy to perform at a higher levellift heavier weights, work faster and harder, she said.

BOTTOM LINE: It doesnt matter if youre going for a short HIIT session or a long cardio session, eating before will give you the energy you need to crush it.

Myth #3

Protein shakes before a workout = good idea.

Athlete drinking protein drink
Athlete drinking protein drink
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Nope. Our bodies dont use protein as an energy source. Taking in a bunch of protein before a workout will not help fuel your workout, and will not help you build extra muscle, Mancella said.

Thats rightthat protein shake you chug right before your workout is not going to do much to boost your performance.

That isnt to say that protein isnt important. Taking protein in soon after a workout will help build muscle, Spano said. But its carbohydrates that are going to give you that energy for an actual workout. Our bodies simply do not use protein for energy.

BOTTOM LINE: Stop with the pre-workout protein. Instead, opt for a carbohydrate-rich snack of about 200 to 300 kcals roughly 2 to 3 hours before your workout.

Myth #4

Eating before a workout is going to mess with my stomach.

Happy athletic couple eating healthy food on a break in a gym.
Happy athletic couple eating healthy food on a break in a gym.
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One of the most common reasons athletes (at the professional level) tell me they never eat before workouts is that they are scared it will make them sick to their stomachs, Spano said. If this is happening, a person should adjust either what or when they are eating instead of not eating at all.

Spano said that when she has athletes worried about indigestion, she has them start small, like a banana three hours before a workout. There are also options like gels and gummies that are digested very quickly, she said.

If youre a person who has tried eating before a workout and get an upset stomach, double-check what is in your food. Spano said foods high in fiber or contain ingredients such as sugar alcohols, inulin and chicory root can cause gas and bloating, all no-gos for sweat sessions.

BOTTOM LINE: If youve tried eating before a workout and had some unpleasant results, check the ingredients. Start with simple carbohydrates 2 to 3 hours out from your workout.

Overall, eating before a workout is something that can give anyone some extra energy for gains, and who doesnt want that? Start small, keep it carbohydrate-rich, and rememberif youre able to push a little harder because of that extra boost, the results are going to show.