“What should I eat before my workout to work towards my goals?”
You work hard – and fueling your body the RIGHT way will make sure you maximize all of that work to get the best possible results.
Let’s break it down into three easy steps:
1. WHEN TO EAT: To get the ultimate results from your workouts, you need to be intentional about your nutrition.
That means eating between 2 to 3 hours before your workout.
But that being said … if you get up early in the morning to workout, you probably don’t have that long of a window.
If at all possible, eat a small snack 45-60 minutes before your workout.
TIP 1: The shorter the window of time before your workout, the smaller your meal should be to avoid upsetting your stomach.
TIP 2: Liquid foods (like a shake or smoothie) also have a faster transit time through your stomach, so they can be a good choice.
Bonus FAQ: What about fasted workouts first thing in the morning?
It’s true, some studies show you can burn more fat if you work out on an empty stomach, but studies into whether that translates into actual weight loss show mixed results.
But if your goal is to 1) add muscle or 2) train for peak performance…eating ahead of time can help you get the most out of your workout.
2. WHAT TO EAT: Generally speaking, a balanced meal or snack with carbs, protein, and a small amount of fat.
Carbs – Your muscles run on glycogen, which is the way your body stores and processes the glucose (sugar) it gets from carbs.
When you do shorter or more intense workouts, the glycogen stored in your body is usually enough to fuel your workouts.
But if you’re doing long or low-moderate intensity workouts, your stored glycogen can run out.
Having Protein – Studies show that eating protein before a workout can boost your:
- Muscle growth
- Recovery, and
Eating Fat – There aren’t a lot of studies on the immediate impact of eating fat before your workout. That being said, fat is your body’s preferred source of fuel for long and/or low to moderate-intensity exercise.
One downside of eating fat right before you exercise is that it can give you a stomach ache since it takes longer to digest.
Here are some pre-workout meal/snack ideas for you:
- ½ banana + ½ cup of nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 apple (or a handful of grapes) + 1 hard-boiled egg
- Protein shake with almond milk, ½ cup berries, and ½ scoop protein powder
- Handful of raisins and nuts (2 parts raisins to 1 part nuts)
- Oatmeal with almond milk and fruit
3. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY: The most important thing is that you find a formula that works for YOU.
This will depend on:
- Your goals (physical performance vs. fat loss, for example),
- When you work out (morning vs. evening), and
- Any health issues you might have.
And if you DO have health issues, you will want to check with your doctor or registered dietitian for their input and advice!