What to Eat Before a Workout: 5 Simple Tips
- Focus on Carbs
Carbs get a bad rap, but they’re an important energy source for your workouts.
Your body breaks down carbs into glucose, some of which is stored as glycogen — your body’s main source of energy during high-intensity workouts.
Including carbs in your pre-workout nutrition ensures that your body will have glycogen on reserve if you need it.
On the flip side, if your body doesn’t have enough glycogen, you may feel sluggish and tired during your workout.
Which carbs should you eat before a workout?
- For longer-lasting energy, choose slow-digesting complex carbs (like fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains) rather than simple carbs (like white bread or candy).
- If you’re doing a shorter workout, simple carbs can provide immediate energy. That way your body can take advantage of the glucose.
- For longer workouts that require endurance, like running, focus on eating both complex and simple carbs to help you power through from start to finish.
- Limit Fats Before Your Workout
Healthy fats are an important part of your overall nutrition plan, and they can provide energy during a workout.
But dietary fats take longer to digest, so avoid consuming them right before your workout or you may end up feeling sluggish instead.
- Stop Focusing on Time
There is no precise formula for when to eat before a workout. But in general, you should eat something anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours before your workout.
Figure out what works best for you. That may be a full meal, four hours before you press play on your workout, or it may be a light snack 30 minutes before your workout. It can be just a protein bar.
- Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods
Whether you opt for a meal or a snack, it should “include a good mix of carbs, protein, and minimal fat.
Some options for a balanced full pre-workout meal include:
- Lean protein with rice or quinoa and steamed vegetables
- Mediterranean wrap with avocado, vegetables, and lean protein
- Sandwich made with whole-wheat bread, lean protein, and vegetables with a side salad or sweet potato
A few pre-workout snacks to try include:
- Greek yogurt with fruit
- Fresh fruit (like a banana, apple, or orange)
- A bowl of cereal with milk
- Trail mix with dried fruit and mixed nuts
- Give Yourself a Boost
Bottom line: Your pre-workout nutrition should give you the energy you need to power through a tough workout.
For an extra boost, try pre-workout supplement provides beta-alanine, low-dose caffeine, and quercetin to help delay exercise-induced muscle fatigue so you can push harder and go longer.