Pre-Workout Nutrition: What You Should Eat Before Your Workout
January 6, 2021
The old saying goes “You are what you eat” and this is especially true for athletes. Proper nutrition is essential to achieving both physical and performance goals. Optimizing your nutrition and pre-workout supplementation will not only help your body perform better and develop the results you want from training but will also go a long way in ensuring a high quality of life. Be sure to check out our guides on intra-workout and post-workout nutrition.
Examples of Pre-Workout Meals
The type and quantity of food you eat before your workout depend on many factors. You will need to tailor your pre-workout meal to your overall caloric needs, what type of training you are doing, how long you plan on training, and how intense you train. Your pre-workout meal may differ from day to day depending on what your needs are.
The meal ideas below are tailored to those seeking to build muscle and strength, but the general principles apply to most types of training. As also, these are ideas are a guideline and your body is the best tool you have to determine what you should eat and when.
A good rule of thumb is to eat a mixture of carbs and protein prior to exercise and keep fat intake to a minimum. If you plan on eating a significant amount of fat with your pre-workout meal it is generally good to give your body a few hours to break that meal down.
If Your Workout Starts Within 2–3 Hours or More
This timeframe works for many athletes, especially those on high calories diets. Two to three hours is also enough time for most people to digest their food and prevent abdominal discomfort.
- Steak, potato, and roasted/steamed vegetables
- Whole eggs, oatmeal or toast w/ avocado, fruit juice, or whole fruit
- Smoothie made with whole milk, protein powder, peanut or almond butter, and fruit
If Your Workout Starts Within 2 Hours
This timeframe also works well for most athletes. The absence of fat helps the body quickly break down food.
- Chicken or fish, rice, and roasted/steamed vegetables
- Smoothie made with whole milk, protein powder, Greek yogurt, and fruit
- Egg white omelet, oatmeal, fruit juice, or whole fruit
If Your Workout Starts Within an Hour
It is not recommended to try and consume a full meal if you have to work out within an hour of eating. It is best to eat something light that is quickly digestible to prevent and abdominal discomfort.
- Greek yogurt and fruit
- Protein bar
- Protein shake with fruit
Don’t be afraid to try different timings and meal compositions. Everyone is different and you will need to find out what works best for you.
To summarize, a combination of carbohydrates and protein is recommended for pre-workout meals. Fat is also beneficial but requires additional time to digest.
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