Essential Pre-Workout Nutrition
Due to the demand exercise places on your body, it’s helpful to fuel up for any bout in the gym. Exercising on an empty stomach is generally not advisable, as you’ll lack the energy you need from carbohydrates to achieve your peak performance. However, some people do perform well in a fasted state – usually for cardio exercise rather than lifting weights.
Handling pre-workout nutrition correctly requires a knowledge of calories, carbohydrates, protein and fats. Read our nutrition section for an in-depth look at each type of nutrient and how it affects you.
Try to keep the portion size appropriate to your fitness goals, as a larger portion may lead to feelings of bloating and sickness when working out. In terms of what to eat before a workout, it depends on the timing of your meal.
2-3 Hours Before A Workout
If you’re eating a meal at lunch or in the afternoon with a view to training early in the evening, it pays to fuel up with a meal rich in carbohydrate and protein. Brown rice, green vegetables and chicken or tuna in a smaller portion is a great idea here. Rich foods or an excess of calories may leave you bloated and feeling sick when you’re working out.
Carbohydrates help fuel your body, but avoid carbs that have a high glycaemic index, as they will quickly spike your blood sugar way before you even make it to the gym.
2-3 Hour Window Pre-Workout Meals
- A slice of wholemeal toast topped with egg whites.
- Tuna and quinoa salad.
- One pot protein chili and brown rice.
- Chicken breast and a sweet potato.
1-2 Hours Before A Workout
As you head closer to a workout and still haven’t eaten, your body is desperate for nutrients but a full meal can leave you sluggish and sickly. Opt for a light meal with carbohydrates to give your body energy.
Keep the calories low to avoid bloating. A light salad with some couscous, bulgur wheat or brown rice fits the bill. Snacking on fruit at this stage will increase blood sugar ready for the workout.
1-2 Hour Window Pre-Workout Meals
- Baked sweet potato with tuna.
- Spinach and avocado salad with chopped chicken breast.
- Oatmeal topped with blueberries.
- Fruit smoothie with chopped banana and ground oats.
- Chopped apple with almond/peanut butter topping.
Last Minute Pre-Workout Foods
If you’ve left things a bit too late and you’re now wondering what to eat before a workout that you’re beginning in less than 30 minutes, don’t worry! There are quick ways of getting the energy you need into your body.
Sugar, usually a frowned upon nutrient, is a vital part of exercise energy levels. Focus on foods that have healthy sugar, are easily digestible and don’t contain lots of calories. Do not resort to sugary sweets for a pre-workout rush. You’ll end up experiencing a mid-workout energy dump.
30 Minutes or Less Pre-Workout Snacks
- Banana and ½ cup Greek yoghurt
- ¼ - ½ cup of dried fruit mix
- Pre-workout bar
Pre Workout Supplements
Pre Workout Supplements combine the nutritional practices we’ve listed above, but are generally presented in a more digestible form. That means ingredients like natural sugars, caffeine and beta-alanine. MaxiNutrition's (Formerly Maximuscle) new range of pre workout are designed to increase focus.