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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Conrad

What to Eat Before a Workout

Good nutrition can help your body perform better and recover faster after each workout. I remember when I first started my fitness journey I had no idea when or what to eat. I felt lost with no structure. Let's keep it as simple as possible and look in to pre-workout nutrition.

What to Eat is Important

Fueling your body with the right nutrients prior to exercise will give you the energy and strength you need to perform better. Each macronutrient plays a different role before a workout.


Your muscles use the glucose from carbs for fuel. Glycogen is the way the body stores glucose, mainly in the liver and muscles. For short- and high-intensity exercise, your glycogen stores are your muscles' main source of energy. Your muscles' glycogen stores are limited. As these stores become depleted, your output and intensity diminish.


Eating protein prior to exercise has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis is a naturally occurring process in which protein is produced to repair muscle damage caused by intense exercise.


Fat is the source of fuel for longer and moderate-to-low-intensity exercise.

When to Eat Your Pre-Workout Meal is Important

The timing of your meal is an important aspect of your pre-workout. The goal is to eat a complete meal of carbs, protein and fat 2-3 hours before your training. But who can really time their meals that perfectly all the time?? So the sooner you eat before your workout, the smaller the meal should be to prevent a tummy ache.

Example Timing of Pre-Workout Meals

Which foods and how much to eat depends on the type, duration and intensity of the workout. To keep it simple, eat a mixture of carbs and protein prior to exercise. If you eat fat with your pre-workout meal, then it should be consumed at least a few hours before your workout.

Exercising Within 2–3 Hours or More

Tuna sandwich on whole-grain bread

Lean protein, quinoa and a side salad

Egg omelet and whole-grain toast with and a cup of fruit

Lean protein, brown rice and roasted vegetables

Exercising Within 2 Hours

Protein smoothie: protein powder, kale, banana and mixed berries, avocado

A cup of oatmeal topped with banana and almonds

Almond butter and banana on a rice cake

Exercising Within an Hour or Less

Greek yogurt and fruit

Nutrition bar with protein and wholesome ingredients

A piece of fruit (banana, orange or apple)

If you eat 45–60 minutes prior to your workout, choose foods that are simple to digest and contain mainly carbs and some protein.

Keep in mind if you're not hungry then do not force yourself to eat. Some people do not need eat before their workout and that is okay.


It's important to fuel your body with proper nutrition for the best results.

Carbs help maximize your body's ability to use glycogen to fuel short- and high-intensity training, while fat helps fuel your body for longer training sessions. Eating protein helps improve muscle protein synthesis, prevent muscle damage and promote recovery.

Pre-workout meals can be eaten 3 hours to 30 minutes before a workout. However, choose foods that are easy to digest, especially if your workout starts in one hour or less.

At the end of the day, having a meal plan that goes with your training is key to seeing and feeling results. If you need help "Finding Your Fitness Lifestyle", take my application for online training.

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