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Pre-Workout Nutrition: What To Eat Before A Workout

What To Eat Before A Workout

What To Eat Before A Workout - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

30-Second-Summary
  • Eat a balanced diet 2 to 3 hours before a workout for better performance and muscle recovery. It helps you avoid stomach and muscle discomforts, and you enjoy it more.
  • Ensure you pick carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and fruits when deciding what to eat before a workout.
  • Carbohydrates provide calories and energy to burn, while proteins help muscle protein breakdown and regeneration.
  • If you want to work out within 30 minutes, eat a snack with more carbs to avoid getting tired fast.
  • Always take a lot of water 2 hours before a workout. Also, drink a cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes during a workout.

Why You Should Know What To Eat Before A Workout?

You may be experiencing discomfort during workouts, and you aren’t sure what to eat before a workout. Knowing what to eat before working out helps you get the needed energy, strength, endurance, and balance.

Further still, knowing the good things to eat before a workout will give you peace of mind. Additionally, it will help you enjoy your workout without fatigue, stomach upsets, and muscle discomforts.

Carbohydrates will provide glucose fuel to burn during a workout, and eating protein before or after a workout will help in muscle regeneration and repair. Still, healthy fats will be handy, especially where you will exercise for long and many hours after you eat. Vitamins and minerals may help heal, and it provides energy, muscle conditioning, as well as joints health.

So, when deciding what to eat before a workout, ensure the diet is well balanced with carbs, proteins, vitamins, minerals, fruits, and healthy fats.

Best Pre-Workout Meal Timing

Best Pre-Workout Meal Timing
While deciding what to eat before a workout is important, then the timing of the meal is the key to attaining full benefits. Studies show that you should eat 2 to 3 hours before a workout if your meal contains carbs, fats, and proteins.

But if you must work out within a shorter time, then reduce the food portions and avoid heavy fiber foods or healthy fats. Then, eat less, but ensure you eat protein before or after a workout that is easy to digest.

Otherwise, if you want to work out within 30 minutes, eat a light snack with less than 200[1] calories. It will prevent discomforts like vomiting, nausea, and muscle cramps. Still, if your workout lasts less than 30 minutes, you may take water and drinks with little or no sugars.

In fact, one Forbes Health Advisory Board[2] member says if you do 30 minutes workouts, you need to focus on remaining hydrated rather than eating.

But, if you must take a bite, make it light and spend some minutes before you start a workout. And, allow your snacks to have more carbohydrates than protein before or after a workout, plus other food types.

Useful Supplements Before A Workout

Every workout requires a boost of energy. Energy boosts performance, strength, and endurance, and it prevents fatigue. If you can’t eat before a workout, you may use energy supplements. Some of the best supplements before a workout include:

  • Creatine to help boost muscle mass, strength, endurance, and prevent tiredness.
  • Beta-Alanine amino acid to avoid muscle tiredness, boost performance, and focus. In truth, Beta-Alanine is more effective for a 1-4 minutes workout, and it’s also good for longer workouts.
  • Sodium Bicarbonate or baking soda prevents fatigue and accumulation of acids in the body.
  • Caffeine[3] is found in tea, coffee, and energy drinks to enhance performance, strength, fatigue, and muscle stimulation.
  • Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) consist of valine, isoleucine, and leucine amino acids to build muscles and prevent muscle deterioration.

  • Nitrate from green vegetables and beetroot for nitric oxide to improve blood flow to the muscles.
  • Citrulline[4] amino acid enhances performance by supplying oxygenated blood and nutrients to the muscles.
  • Cocktail supplements blend many supplements as one. e.g., caffeine, creatine, vitamins, and nitrates as a single product for compound effects.

Learn What To Eat Before A Workout

Eat Before A Workout

  • Essentially, some foods fit the bill before any workout for many people. While some good things to eat before a workout are science-based, some may prove untenable for some individuals.
  • The experiment established what to eat before a workout that works best for you before you start. Nevertheless, experts advise you to mix carbohydrates with proteins before a workout.
  • Still, you can eat protein before or after a workout. And you may eat healthy fats, but ensure you wait over 2 hours before working out.
  • Primarily, carbohydrates provide you with fuel energy for a workout since they provide glucose to your body muscles. While carbs help energy proteins build muscle mass, endurance, and strength, apart from repairing wear and tear of the muscles.

Specifically, here is a summary of what to eat before a workout:

  • Whole grain products for carbohydrates. You can eat brown bread toast topped with honey or jam, which gets digested quickly.
  • Or, brown rice and oats with less fiber constantly release glucose while avoiding a spike in blood sugars.
  • For proteins, look for plant-based proteins or animal proteins without unhealthy fats. Better still, you can take protein before or after a workout. But, ensure you mix proteins with carbohydrates and fruits. For instance, you can take eggs with a slice of brown bread topped with nut butter and avocado, lean meat like bacon, brown bread topped with natural honey, and fruit juice or fruit salads.
  • Again, you can go for healthy dairy products like yogurt, chocolate milk, skimmed milk, berries, legumes, and vegetables.
  • For a snack, opt for fruits since they get digested easily. It will give you a surge of glucose, vitamins, and minerals.
  • When you can’t cook, you may grab a protein bar containing some carbohydrates and other nutrients.
  • So as much as possible, before any workout ensure you take foods with carbohydrates, healthy fats, proteins, fruits, vegetables, and minerals.

Foods To Avoid Before A Workout

Foods To Avoid Before A Workout

  • Depending on the length, intensity, and type of workout you wish to engage in, there are some foods you must avoid.
  • In fact, some foods will cause nausea, vomiting, stomach aches, fatigue, and bloating, which will ruin or make you avoid workouts.
  • So, before starting, carefully select the good things to eat before a workout that is easy to digest and avoid the rest. In short, avoid heavy, greasy, and fried foods, plus foods that are new in your diet.
  • Also, shun foods with a lot of fiber, proteins, sugar, and fats that aren’t easy to digest and make you full longer. To avoid stomach and muscular disorders, eat such foods several hours before a workout if need be.

Here Is A Summary Of Some Foods To Avoid:

  • Burgers and pizzas
  • Avocados and nuts
  • Bacon
  • Refined sugars and pastries
  • Spaghetti and cheese
  • Fiber foods
  • Dairy products
  • Fried foods like French fries, chips, and Bhajias
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Foods with many spices
  • Alcoholic beverages

Generally, what works for some people may prove unsuitable for others. So, you may experiment to see which diet works for you based on how you feel after eating different diets. Be conscious of how you feel as you work out, your level of tiredness, endurance, energy levels, and mood after you eat the food.

With time, eliminate and adopt foods in a trial-error method until you get your best foods before a workout. Otherwise, you can consult your dietician or fitness coach to guide you more on the good things to eat before a workout.

Best Drinks Before A Workout

For a fruitful workout, keep your body well hydrated. In essence, no other drink hydrates your body better than water. For better hydration, take 17 to 20 ounces of water[5] 2-3 hours before a workout. And take about 250 milliliters every 20 minutes during a workout. As a result, you will perform better and remain well hydrated, even when you sweat profusely during a workout.

Other best energy drinks or supplements to mix with water are those that contain

  • Caffeine is for better muscle stimulation and performance.
  • Carbohydrates for energy.
  • Beta-alanine improves muscle strength and endurance.
  • Creatine for better performance and prevent fatigue.
  • L-arginine controls blood pressure and improves blood circulation to supply nutrients to the muscles.
  • Sodium for fluids retention.
  • Amino acids for better digestion plus blood and oxygen flow.
  • Vitamins for better muscle health and recovery.
  • Generally, you get the drinks in powder form to mix with water, though some are ready to drink liquids.

Frequently Asked Questions

Exercising on an empty stomach helps you burn calories and lose lean muscles. However, it gives you fatigue, as you lack fuel for a workout.

Healthy foods containing proteins, fruits, minerals, fiber, and vegetables grow muscles. Choose from eggs, chicken, tuna, beans, garlic, salmon, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and milk.

Avoid many healthy fats like nuts and avocado. Also, avoid eating greasy and fried pizzas, fries, and burgers to reduce saturated fats in your digestive system.

After eating, wait for 2 hours for the food to digest before a workout or 30 minutes after a light snack.

Conclusion

In summary, what to eat before a workout may depend on individual circumstances. There is no strict diet to follow. However, always eat 2-3 hours before a workout for better performance, endurance, strength, and enjoyment. It will help you avoid stomach upsets and fatigue. Still, good things to eat before a workout must contain carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, vegetables, and fruits.

You may take a light snack with carbs and other foods if you intend to visit the gym in 30 minutes. Or, ask your dietician about what to eat before a workout. And, if you lack time, you can grab a supplement to boost endurance, strength, reaction time, recovery, and concentration.

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