What To Eat Before A Workout
Are you ready to start scorching those calories, and burning fat like no other workout you’ve ever had before? Before you start, make sure you’re in the know about what to eat before a workout so you’re body is prepped and ready. Fuel yourself for a killer workout!
It’s super important to eat the correct foods if you are planning to get the best out of your workout. Everyone has different dietary requirements, however, making sure you balance protein, carbs and fat correctly pre-workout will ensure your energy levels and mood do not plummet before the end of your session.
The following foods are perfect for maintaining your protein, carbs and fat requirements. Keeping your macronutrient levels correctly balanced gives you the energy to maximize your workout. Your body will also be correctly fueled, and less fatigued.
Including these foods within your pre-workout snack or meal will help stave off hunger whilst you exercise. So what are you waiting for? Eat these foods, and start your killer calorie scorching workout!
What Is A Good Pre-Workout Meal?
Eating a banana 30-60 minutes before you exercise is a great pre-workout snack idea. This is because bananas are packed full of potassium, which the human body only stores for a short amount of time. Potassium is known to support muscle and nerve functions.
Bananas are packed full of fast acting carbohydrates that work to restore the bodies glycogen levels. Their natural sugar content will also increase your blood sugar levels.
Another reason to eat the humble banana is because they are high in magnesium. The banana also helps to replenish your mineral levels.
If you are looking for a protein boost in your pre-workout snack, why not add peanut butter to your banana!
2. Porridge and Oats
Porridge is no longer just for breakfast. If you are planning to do a workout later in the day, consider eating a bowl of porridge roughly two hours before your workout. The oats are packed full of fiber which release carbohydrates slowly. Energy released slowly helps energise you throughout your workout.
Porridge contains complex carbohydrates, and is a great source of beta-glucan, a soluble fibre (source).
Oats also make a super pre-workout meal choice, because they help reduce hunger pangs during your workout.
3. Protein Shakes
Are you too busy to sort a snack or meal before your workout? No worries! Protein shakes are the answer you’ve been looking for. Just whip up a shake in your shaker cup or blender, using protein powder and milk/water, then voila! Drink your shake roughly 60 minutes before starting your workout.
Many people swear by drinking protein shakes pre-workout. They are both packed full of protein, whilst also being a tasty meal choice too. Make sure you only purchase shakes of good quality, that are packed full of the nutrients your body needs to function at optimal levels.
Recommended Protein Shakes
With the protein shake market looking pretty full, it’s pretty easy to get confused by which protein powders you should be buying. I used to get so baffled. Now, I’ve worked it out so I can make your life easier too!
Here are my top protein powder shake recommendations, from Amazon. Not everyone’s the same, so I’ve selected a range of powders, suiting individual requirements.
a) Chocolate Lovers Protein Shake: 29 Servings
Includes whey protein powder which is known to be a great source of fast-releasing protein. This shake also includes glutamine and amino acids. Suitable pre-workout, or post-workout.
If you aren’t a fan of chocolate (heaven forbid?!) then there are a load of other flavours to try out too. Just click this link to explore the taste options.
b) Looking To Lose Weight: 21g Protein
If your goal is to lose weight, then this protein shake is suited to helping you achieve this. It’s packed full with a whopping 21g of protein, making you feel fuller for longer.
This protein shake is specifically designed for weight loss, so includes 27 essential vitamins that your body needs during dieting to keep you feeling on top of your game, and full of energy.
It’s so simple to make. Just mix water (or almond milk, rice milk, skimmed milk) with one scoop of powder. Voila!
4. Greek Yoghurt
If you’re feeling peckish and want to fuel your body pre-workout, reach for some 0% fat Greek Yoghurt. Greek yoghurt is particularly suited to pre-workout snacks because it’s packed full of protein, which keeps you feeling fuller, for longer. Protein is also really great, because it helps to prevent muscle damage (source).
Add some fruit (of your choice), and nuts to the Greek Yoghurt. This will spice up the flavour and make it taste super yummy. The fruit is beneficial because it gives you the carbohydrate energy hit needed to fuel your workout. The nuts contain protein, helping you to gain muscle mass.
Instructions: Pour yoghurt into a bowl or cup, then add berries (or any fruit of your choice) on top. Finally, sprinkle nuts on top. Nuts are high in fat, so do not add them to your yoghurt if you’re trying to lose weight.
5. Chicken, Rice and Vegetables (e.g. Broccoli)
This tasty meal choice definitely won’t come as a surprise! It’s a very popular dish combination, especially amongst athletes. Just remember to eat it roughly 2-3 hours before your workout so it doesn’t sit heavy in your stomach during your workout.
There’s so much to love about this healthy dish, when eating it as part of a pre-workout meal:
Firstly, the chicken is packed full of lean protein which keeps you feeling satiate.
Secondly, rice is a complex carbohydrate. This means that the human body digests rice slowly, resulting in a smaller, yet consistent release of glucose into the bloodstream (source). A steady supply of energy is required if you are planning a longer harder workout.
Thirdly, broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse packed full of vitamins C and K. It’s also a great way to get potassium, fiber and folate into your body. The downside to this little green number however, is that it might make you a touch gassy at the gym! If you get this issue, consider swapping it for another vegetable.
What Should I Eat Before A Workout To Lose Weight?
In order to lose weight, there needs to be a calorie deficit. If you are keen to lose a little bit of weight, make sure you eat a low calorie snack 30-60 minutes before each workout. This will give you the energy to exercise your body at optimal levels, without dropping early from fatigue or hunger.
Eating the wrong types of foods pre-workout can significantly impact your workout performance, and weight loss achievements. Make sure to fuel your body with food types that give you enough energy to complete a killer workout! This is particularly important as it also lessens the likelihood of the dreaded post-workout binge.
Aim to include the three macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate and protein) in every meal. You will need to adjust the quantities consumed at each meal, depending upon the time you intend to complete a workout.
Losing weight is not a one size fit all subject though, everyone is different. Some people like waking up early and exercising, whereas others prefer to workout in the evening. It is important to determine what sort of person you are, because you are then equipped with the correct information as to what foods you need to fuel your body with, at what times.
What do I eat before a morning workout?
Is it OK to workout on an empty stomach?
If you are an early bird, and love getting that workout in as soon as you wake up each morning, consider opting for a fasted cardio workout. This is when you exercise without eating anything pre-workout. It is a great way to scorch fat, and will have you feeling pumped and energised for the rest of the day. Once your workout is complete, make sure to correctly fuel your body to prevent muscle deterioration, and energy loss.
What should I eat before workout?
If you prefer to eat breakfast before even considering having a workout, then make sure you opt for food options that are easily digestible, and low in fat and protein. It is important that you leave 30 minutes before exercising, to avoid stomach cramping and general digestion issues.
Examples of easily digestible food:
- 0% fat Greek yoghurt with fruit
- Hard Boiled Eggs
What kind of food is good for gym?
Fasted cardio workouts are not recommended for lunch time workout fanatics. It is important that you do not starve yourself until you wish to workout. This will leave you feeling energyless, dizzy, and unable to complete your workout to your full potential.
Make sure you fuel your body at breakfast time with the correct pre-workout foods listed at the beginning of this article. This will stave off hunger throughout the morning. Porridge is a great choice in particular because it will give you a steady release of energy, keeping you feeling full, for longer.
My particular favourite breakfast combination is my Weetabix Cereal With Strawberries recipe, because it’s so quick and easy to make, and tastes great! The addition of sultanas provides just a little burst of sweetness, to kick start your day the right way.
For other yummy breakfast inspiration, check out my Breakfast recipe page.
Before getting started on your lunchtime workout, make sure you have eaten a small meal roughly 1-2 hours before you exercise. This meal should include the three macronutrients – fat, protein and carbohydrates. According to Very Well Fit you should aim to eat a small 300-400 calorie meal including 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein and 20% fat, before a lunchtime workout (source). They also emphasise that the small meal is not high in protein or fat.
Should I Eat Before A Workout?
If the evening is the only time you have to exercise, or the only time you actually feel awake enough to workout, we’ve got you covered.
In regards to the answer, it’s really going to depend on what time you eat and exercise in the evening.
The main thing to remember is to leave a minimum of 1.5 hours gap after eating a big meal, before heading to the gym. Whilst your dinner might have fired you up with energy to workout, you don’t want to feel the weight of it sitting in your belly whilst you workout. It feels uncomfortable to exercise on a full stomach, and may also make you feel slightly sick. Give your body time to get into the swing of digesting your dinner.
Respect your bodies needs. Give it time to digest larger meals. If you insist on rushing straight to the gym after your dinner, be aware that your body will not workout at optimal levels. The reason for this, is that your body will be entirely focused upon digesting the meal you just ate.
Here are some great dinner ideas (listed over on my Recipe Page). They are healthy, and packed full of the macronutrients you need to fuel you for your workout:
What Should I Eat 30 Minutes Before A Workout?
Fuel your body no less than 30 minutes before your workout starts. Eat light snack options consisting of easily digestible carbohydrates e.g. bananas. Aim to incorporate a small bit of protein into the snack too, to help build muscle. Greek Yoghurt is a great source of protein, so why not munch on a small bowl of greek yoghurt and fruit.
If you are feeling super hungry and desperate to eat a larger meal before you start exercising, delay your workout session until later. Working out when you are hungry will likely result in a lack of energy to complete the exercises, plus your overall performance levels will be limited.
What To Eat Before A Workout To Build Muscle
Individuals trying to build muscle should keep a close eye on the foods they consume pre-workout, and post-workout.
Make sure your pre-workout meal contains a balance of these macronutrients, to ensure your body can function correctly:
Those keen to build muscle should eat a large amount of lean protein in their pre-workout meals.
Protein is important for body builders because it increases the amount of muscle mass gained from a resistance workout (source).
Intense weightlifting causes microscopic tears in the connective tissue and fiber of muscles. As the muscle heals, it rebuilds stronger. Protein is particularly important in this instance because it supplies amino acids to the body, which help repair muscle fibers, and encourage growth.
According to Medical News Today, “consuming 20-30 grams of protein before a workout can result in an increased rate of muscle protein synthesis” (source).
If you don’t have time to make a meal packed full of protein, consider purchasing the protein shakes I recommended above. They are a great way to get your protein hit in before a workout, and so quick and easy to mix up from powder. Just pop the powder into your shaker cup, add water/milk, give it a shake, and off you go!
Click below to review my protein shakes recommendations:
In order to complete your workout without feeling a drop in energy levels, make sure you include carbohydrates in your pre-workout meal, or snack.
There are two types of carbohydrate: simple and complex. The body turns both forms of carbohydrates into glucose, then uses this energy to fuel the bodies needs.
According to Healthline: “Carbohydrates are made up of three components: fiber, starch, and sugar” (source).
Let’s take a brief look at both, in relation to pre-workout meals and snacks:
a) Simple Carbohydrates
Otherwise known as ‘simple sugars’. They are broken down quickly by the body, so are ideal if you need an immediate energy boost in your day. Examples include white bread, candy and refined sugars.
Avoid eating simple sugars in your pre-workout meal. Whilst simple carbohydrates may provide a quick source of energy, you may also experience a sudden drop in your energy levels, mid workout.
b) Complex Carbohydrates
Include complex carbohydrates in your pre-workout meal plan, to help stave off hunger pangs during your workout. Complex carbohydrates are more suitable than simple carbohydrates, because they are packed full of fiber and nutrients, and get digested slowly.
Complex carbohydrates are unlikely to cause a blood glucose level spike, because they have a lower glycemic index score (source).
Examples of complex carbohydrates include:
- Brown rice
Fat can be both healthy, and unhealthy. Healthy fat foods include avocado, nuts, olive oil and peanut butter. Unhealthy fats (also known as saturated fats) include cheese, butter, pork, salami, etc.
If you are looking to build muscle, avoid eating too much fat in your pre-workout meal. Fat might be an essential source of energy, but the body digests it very slowly so it is likely to still be sitting in your stomach whilst you complete your workout.
However, eating fat roughly 1.5 – 2 hours pre a workout should not cause you digestion any issues.