What To Eat Before Working Out

The nutrition you consume before a workout can have a big impact on your performance and recovery. Certain nutrients will give you extra energy and strength to help you perform better. Others, will help you work to optimum level; and to reduce injury risk. So what exactly should you be eating just before working out?

It helps if you know how different types of food help your body to work. Here is a quick guide to what different food elements do for you:


When you are exercising, your muscles use stores of glycogen for their fuel, to keep them going. Carbohydrates provide your body with glucose, which increases your glycogen levels, so if you are doing intense workouts or very long workouts, carbs will help keep your muscles working for longer.


Protein is a common element which people consume prior to workouts and studies have shown extra protein can help improve exercise performance. Protein helps to support muscle growth, supports muscle recovery and helps build muscle.

Most people opt for whey to supplement their protein intake but remember, hemp protein is also a great option. Some people take both as they have different properties and benefits.


If you are carrying out long but moderate or low intensity exercise, your body will use fat as its source of fuel, rather glycogen, so if you are doing less intense workouts, like running, you need fat, if you are doing intensive weight lifting, you need carbs.

So all three elements – carbs, protein and fat – can help to enhance your workout in different ways, depending on the type of exercise you are undertaking. It’s crucial to balance all three as they all work in different ways.

Another important aspect of eating before working out is timing. The optimum scenario is to eat a full meal which contains a balance of protein, fat and carbs, around 2-3 hours before you start your workout. If you haven’t eaten or need something quick, then eat something that is easy to digest, and contains mainly carbs around 45-60 minutes before your workout.

So what kind of meals should you be eating? Here is a quick guide, including timings:

2-3 hours before you start your workout:

  • A sandwich with protein and salad
  • Omelette with toast and fruit
  • Rice, vegetables and a lean protein

Less than 2 hours before you start your workout:

  • A banana, berry and protein smoothie
  • Cereal with milk
  • Oatmeal with fruit

Less than an hour before your workout starts:

  • Yogurt with fruit
  • A protein bar
  • A piece of fruit

The important elements are to eat a combination of carbs and protein – fat should only be consumed 2-3 hours before you work out. If you haven’t got that long, stick to carbs and protein only. Make sure you have enough time to eat and digest fully before you start working out; otherwise you will end up with stomach problems and discomfort during your exercise routine.


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