What to Eat Before a Workout

What to Eat Before a WorkoutWhether you are a professional athlete, just trying to stay fit and slim, or simply exercising for fun and enjoyment, you always want to get the maximum out of your workout. One very important factor that allows you do that is the food you eat. Anything you eat (and don’t eat) in the last hour before your workout matters a lot. Why is that? What to eat to maximize your workout?

Why You Should Eat Before Working Out

Having a pre-workout snack is important. First of all, as you can guess, it gives you energy – energy to put more effort and power into your workout. Some also find it easier to exercise longer.

There is also a more scientific reason for taking a few bites before you head to the gym. Working out on an empty stomach may lead to muscle tissue breakdown. If you haven’t had any food to help your workout along, muscle tissue starts converting into glucose to get the needed energy. This could lead to injury and metabolism problems.

How To Time It?

The rule of thumb is to eat a larger meal 2-3 hours before working out and to have a smaller snack in the last 60 minutes before your workout session. The closer to the workout, the lighter should the meal be. Right before gym-time, take something that can be digested fast. Undigested food can’t be used to fuel up your workout, it can also cause cramps and make you uncomfortable.

How Much To Eat?

As we already mentioned, the snack should be something light, but nibbling on seller or a carrot won’t do either. It really depends on your upcoming workout, the more intense and longer it is, the more calories you should consume.

If all you do, is take a 3 mile walk, or jog for 20 minutes, it’s not necessary to fuel up, but if your workout means spending 2 hours at the gym lifting weights or going for an intense basketball training, having a 200-300 calorie snack is in order.

How to Achieve Maximum Performance?

Here is how to get the maximum out of your workout. Have a larger meal 2-3 hours before going for an intense workout + a small bite 30 minutes before the actual exercise starts.

Sometimes it’s not possible to plan your meals and workouts hours ahead, then just get some low-fiber snack with some fruit an hour before working out. These calories are easy to digest and give energy fast.

Basically, your food should meet these 5 requirements, if it doesn’t don’t touch it in less than an hour before workout:

  • Low on carbs and fat
  • Moderately protein
  • Low on fiber
  • Contains fluids
  • Greasy and fried food is a BIG NO-NO

But I Still Don’t Know What to Eat!

Yes, I realize we haven’t really mentioned what exactly to eat. Let’s make it up right now. Here are some simple guidelines and food ideas which should help you fuel your workout to get the most benefits out of your effort.

2-3 Hours Before Workout

  • A whole grain sandwich with lean meat, vegetables, avocado
  • Potatoes, fish, salad + skim milk or an organic vegetable-fruit juice
  • Brown rice with red meat

30 Min-1 Hour Before Workout

  • Low-fiber cereal with plant-based milk
  • Oatmeal and banana
  • Wholegrain bread with honey
  • Hard-boiled eggs with celery and tomato
  • Greek yogurt with fruit and some oatmeal


What About Drinks?

Drinking is even more important than food. But gulping down cans of energy drinks is definitely not a good idea. It can cause serious health problems and you could even end up in hospital. Sports drinks on the other hand, work well. They give you the right vitamins and minerals to have strength and energy even for the most strenuous workout routines.

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids pre-workout, during and afterwards as well. But what about food?

Food During and After Workout

This is a whole new topic and we will probably write an article about this later on, let’s still mention a few basics about if and what to eat during working out and immediately after.

Well, unless you are running a marathon or cycling for hours at a time, you don’t really need to eat anything during your workout. Just stay hydrated and you are good.

It’s good to have some protein after exercising to help your muscles recover from the strain. A whey protein shake, some hard-boiled eggs or even a piece of chocolate with a glass of milk will do. But don’t overdo it, you don’t want to eat back all the calories you have just burned.

About The Author

Mike is one who's "been there, done that" guy. Working from home for over 10 years, he had gained over 40lbs of excess weight. He came to a realisation that his life can't go on like this anymore and it needed to change. He found CrossFit and started learning about healthy eating. Having lost all his excess body weight in the last 2 years he now regularly takes part in CrossFit competitions.

Related posts