Working out is an important activity that helps you to maintain your body and improve your general health. But working out while sick might be something of a concern for many people. Some people may not be aware if they should really go for a workout when they are feeling unwell or if they should take a rest.

pre workout eating

You are right to want to know if working out while feeling unwell is okay. Healthline reports that working out is one way to facilitate your recovery process and to regain your energy. It is ideal to go for tasks that you are comfortable with and avoid straining the body when it is weak.

Experts recommend that you consider what is ailing you before you go on with your working out program. For instance, a common cold is okay, but you cannot work out with a fever, because you will raise body temperature and make yourself sicker.

Another research behind working out while sick is called the “neck check” which involves checking the position of the symptoms. It says that it is okay to exercise if they exist above the neck. Some of these may include ear pain, congested nostrils, etc. You should rest and see a doctor if you are feeling a right flank pain radiating to the back.

If your ailment can allow you to keep on with the workout, you may be wondering if eating is okay before you begin. That is what this post is handling. Food will help you get the energy you need during an exercising process. Without eating right, you may experience problems at the gym or field, which may hinder your recovery process or interfere with your exercises.

We unveil the truth behind eating before a workout when you are sick. Read on to understand the types of food you should pick, when and how to eat, and other eating habits you should implement when you are sick and need to go to the gym.

1. Should You Stay Away from Dairy Products?

pre workout eating

Dairy meals, including milk, yogurt, cheese, etc, are wonderful foods rich in Calcium, energy, and natural minerals. But when you are sick, you will not want to use these foodstuffs because of their “high rate of mucus production” – or so they said. But is the statement really true? And what options should you go for?

BBC Future has something interesting in regard to this. First of all, dairy products do not increase the production of mucus. Whether you have a cold or not, you will not have any problems with the intake of dairy products, even if it is fresh milk, or butter, or ice cream.

The belief people have that links dairy with mucus is merely based on the flocculation that happens in the mouth when milk comes into contact with the saliva. The feeling of “heaviness” when taking milk makes people think that there is a massive production of mucus in the mouth and throat.

The effect, however, is the same even for soya milk, and there is no real mucus congestion. You are at liberty to take a glass (or more if you prefer) of milk before you go for the workout exercise when you are sick.

2. Is Sugar That Bad?

You might have heard how sugar causes instability in the immune system. Some sources explain that the increase in sugar in your body could suppress the functioning of the white blood cells, thus lowering their effectiveness in fighting against disease-causing germs. Some people also believe that more sugar means more inflammation of infected areas and organs.

pre workout eating

Going by the explanation above, you would think that taking sugary foods before going for a workout could hinder your healing process and cause you to become weaker. But wait. There are many arms of the immune system in our bodies. The way sugar affects each of them may vary, and the end results may differ depending on the condition you are suffering from.

One thing to note is that the body takes in sugar in the form of glucose. The glucose itself comes from the starchy foods we take. Another study indicates that in case of bacterial infections, it is necessary to starve to reduce the infection progress, but you should eat more in case the infection is viral. Determine the cause of your infection to choose your foods properly.

3. When Should You Eat?

The timing for eating before you go for a workout may vary from individual to individual according to preferences. It could also depend on the type of food you use. But when it comes to eating before working out when sick, you need to be sure that your health comes first.

Before you set off for a workout or exercise, ensure that your tummy is settled and your body has the physical energy you need to go through the exercise session. Eating at least 1½ hours before the workout is necessary to let the food digest first. You will not want to strain your stomach when you are feeling unwell since some of the body systems are already feeling weak.

4. Do You Need Solid Foods or Fluids?

When you are feeling sick and want to go for a workout, all you want is energy and proteins for body repair. Going for either a solid food or drink may depend on what you are suffering from. Solid foods tend to make the stomach feel full for a long duration when you go for a workout. This will help your brains stop triggering the hunger feeling which could make you want to eat more.

As for liquid foods, they are best when you are having a common cold where you are losing too much water through the nose as mucus. When suffering from diarrhea, you are also required to drink more fluids to replace the lost water from the body.

You should not think that more fluids will make you go for the long call often. They will help in replenishing and balancing the levels of water required in the body to avoid dehydration. If the diarrhea is too much, you should, instead, take a rest and wait until you get better before you resume your workout sessions.

5. Do More Vitamins Improve Your Condition?

We know how essential Vitamins are when it comes to our general health. We were taught how they help in improving the immune system and to prevent many infections. Vitamins C, B6, and E are the most essential vitamins for our bodies. You should never miss any of these vitamins at any time of your life if you want to stay healthy.

When it comes to working out when sick, and you have to eat, people can easily think that vitamins will help them recover fast. However, when researchers carried out various studies on the effect of vitamin C on a cold, they realized that increasing the supply of vitamins has little to no effect on the recovery process.  The research shows that daily supply of vitamin C can reduce the infection by 8% in adults and 14% in children.

In general, Vitamin C is necessary for the body to stay strong and healthy. It helps to maintain your tissues and bones as well as increasing the absorption of Iron. Vitamins intake has a positive impact on your health, and you should add a supply to your diet before going to a workout when you are feeling sick.

6. How Much Salt Do You Need to Consume?

Salt is essential in adding taste to your food. When you are sick, you may crave to take more salt than you normally do. But what is the effect of salt when you are eating before going for a workout? We know that salty foods make a person feel thirsty.

When it comes to a situation when you are sick and want to eat before going for a workout, salt plays an important role in your diet. Some people claim that salt makes your bowels unstable or have an impact on digestion when feeling under the weather. When you are suffering from nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, salt is necessary.

According to the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, at the University of California, salt is essential in balancing your body fluids and control dehydration. Sodium is also essential in balancing blood sugars. The whole process will help you to get better fast as you go for your workout.

7. A Cup of Hot Tea Can Suffice

When you need something quick for your pre-workout, tea is crucial. But let it be hot or warm. Avoid taking cold liquids especially when you have a cold. The hot drink helps to ease the pain in the throat. It also helps you to regain the lost water by rehydration.

Tea, according to, has many benefits that can help someone sick who wants to go on with their workout program. Apart from protecting you against cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, tea also helps in fighting free radicals and, in the process, facilitates the healing process.

When going for a workout, tea is necessary to help you to burn up the extra fats. Through the process, tea gives you the ability to hit the gym for a longer time without getting tired and worn out.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Natural Fiber

Fiber is essential in any diet you may want to use before going for a workout. It makes it even better if you are ill when going for the exercise. The fiber in foodstuffs makes the release of carbohydrates slow. This is a necessary step because large quantities of carbohydrates in the body could make the body start storing up fats, which is against the will of anybody going to the gym.

The slow release of carbohydrates also ensures that you can work out for a long time without having to take a break for a snack. Fiber also helps to stabilize the stomach and facilitate the digestion process. It also helps in preventing diarrhea.

9. Increase Your Protein Intake

Proteins are necessary for building your body and muscles. But when you fall sick, the required daily protein intake increases a lot. San Francisco Gate reports that an ill person may need up to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. It will be necessary when going for a workout to take more protein to cater to your body needs.

Proteins also tend to make your stomach feel full for a long time to avoid overeating during a workout. When you are feeling ill, it is essential to take proteins in liquid form because they will be easier for the tummy. A common source of proteins in liquid form is milk from cows and soya. If you cannot eat your protein you can always get some protein powder.

10. Consider Eating Bananas

Bananas are not only awesome because of the taste but also the value they add to your health when you are working out or feeling sick. Whenever you are feeling sick, especially if you are vomiting or have diarrhea, you tend to lose Potassium from your body. Being another water and electrolyte regulator, you need to refill the loss, and bananas are a great source of Potassium.

Eating bananas also help in regulating your body temperature. They cool you down during a workout or during a time of fever. This will help you work out for longer and prevent you from getting tired fast.


Working out can help you get better fast. But in some conditions, when you are ill, a workout can worsen the experience. You need to ensure that you are doing the right thing by considering how you feel. If you have general body weaknesses, it is vital that you rest before you resume your exercises. Before you choose what to eat when you are sick, you may want to refer to your previous experiences and your physician, considering that everybody is unique.

Author’s Bio

“Jessica Smith has been writing for a few years now. She is a writer by day and reader by night. She loves reading, be it a newspaper, a book or anything. She also loves cooking, traveling and dancing. She wants to be a successful writer as writing is her passion. And she believes that a healthy diet is a key to healthy living”