What To Eat Before A Workout?

Summary: Is pre-workout nutrition important? What are the benefits? And what to eat before a workout? Read on and find out everything!


Pre workout meal

If you've been exercising for a period of time, you may have encountered the term pre-workout and post-workout nutrition, and maybe have had some glimpse of the benefits they can give. In today's article, we will be talking specifically about the first one -- pre-workout nutrition.

You see, the effectiveness of the workout is the huge determinant of our progress inside the iron room. The more we can amplify our workout intensity, the more results we get. So the wise thing we would do if we want to have the best workout possible, is prepare everything we can and treat each workout as a do or die moment. We should make every second in the gym count.

So how do we do that?

By optimizing our pre-workout nutrition.

Benefits Of A Pre-Workout Meal

Pre-workout nutrition is any time that falls under 2-3 hours before exercise. Anything we take atthis period can either make or break our workout; that's why we should treat it with an utmost importance.

Now before discussing the pre-workout food and pre-workout drink that will fuel our intensity and recovery, let's talk about the benefits first of having it as part of our plan:

1. More Energy During Workouts


When we workout, our muscles use glycogen for energy. If we don't have enough glycogen, we feel flat, weak, and unmotivated. A good pre-workout meal should consist of a great source of carbohydrates that will fuel us during our workouts.

2. Prevents Muscle Wasting

Prevents Muscle Wasting

When we workout, our body goes into a catabolic state when muscle tissue breaks down and used as energy. When we consume a pre-workout that consist of combinations of carbs and proteins, our body prevents this from happening.

3. Increase Recovery Rate And Muscle Growth

Workout Woman

Having a supply of protein in the bloodstream ensures you have immediate source available for repair, recovery, and growth once wear and tear are created in the muscle cells.

Pre-Workouts: When Should We Eat?

Preworkout foods

Like I've said, pre-workout is anything under 2-3 hours prior to exercising, but it's not a hard fast rule. The type of meal you're going to consume at this period will largely determine how soon you could do your workouts to maximize the effect of it.

When going for a meal, you should aim to get around 400-600 calories, depending on how much you can tolerate before doing an exercise.

These calories should consist of high amounts of complex carbs, quality protein, and should be low in fat.

Again, depending on how much you ate, 1.5-2 hours would be enough time for the food to digest and be used by the body during workouts.

Pre-Workout Supplements

If going for a pre-workout drink, whether a liquid food or a pre-workout supplement, 30 minutes to 1 hour should be enough. Don't worry, pre-workout supplements are not bad for you even when taken on an empty stomach.

While you can't go wrong with any of these options, some people even choose to combine both. They take a high-quality pre-workout meal, then 2-3 hours later, down it with a pre-workout supplement. For a comprehensive list of the best pre-workouts, you can check these lists:

Pre-Workouts: What To Eat Before A Workout?

Combine these foods and expect the best from your workouts:

1. Oats


Oats are packed with complex carbohydrates that will fuel your workouts. These carbs are useful as they don't give you energy spikes and crashes, only steady energy supply throughout your exercise session. They also provide enough fiber to stave off hunger in case you go in for a lighter meal.

Throw some quality protein in the mix and you have the perfect pre-workout.

2. Bananas


Bananas, though they have a fast-acting type of carbohydrates, will still be useful if combined with low acting carbs like oats. These fast acting carbs will jumpstart your engine and give you a boost at the beginning of the workout. This will be useful if you're going to do a short, intense workout session instead of a long, cardio-type ones.

Aside from carbs, bananas are rich in potassium that helps in muscle and nerve functions.

3. Eggs And Egg Whites


Eggs are good pre-workout food as they contain high-quality supply of proteins. Though whole eggs have fats in them, I suggest to limit the consumption to 1 or 2 and just consume egg whites for the rest.

4. Brown Rice

Brown Rice

Like oats, brown rice is best consumed pre-workout as they supply complex carbohydrates in the bloodstream. These carbs have a low glycemic index, meaning they will provide a steady source of energy throughout your workouts. Athletes and endurance trainees will benefit from this the most as their type of training is usually longer than the average iron trainee.

5. Lean Meats

Lean Meats

Chicken breast, tuna, salmon, lean beef, and such are good pre-workout food as they contain high amounts of quality proteins. These proteins provide the necessary amino acids to immediately repair and rebuild the muscles that are being trained.

6. Greek Yogurt

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt has twice the protein as the normal yogurt and has less amount of sugar. Mixing this with complex carbs such as oats could create a perfect pre-workout meal.

7. Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese, like Greek yogurt, has high amounts of protein and less fat than a regular cheese.

Read more: Is C​ottage Cheese Good For You?

8. Whole Grains

Whole Grains

Quinoa, whole grain bread, and cereals, are packed with complex carbohydrates and fiber -- giving you a sustained energy release throughout your workout session.

9. Low-Fat Chocolate Drink

Chocolate Drink

Chocolate drink provides sufficient amount of fast acting carbs and quality protein from milk which will be suitable before workouts. Combine it with with slow acting carbs to have a sustainable energy supply.

​10. Protein Powder

Protein Powder

A great option if you only have a few minutes before your workout is to consume a good protein powder. Most of best protein powders on the market today offers a good combination of macronutrients that's perfect for pre-workout.

11. Coffee


Nothing is more inexpensive than a good, old-fashioned coffee. Coffee has caffeine, and caffeine has been shown to increase workout performance by increasing stamina, resistance to fatigue, and focus.

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