Q&A Tuesday:
What Should I Eat Before a Workout?

Welcome to our new weekly series, Q&A Tuesday, where we will be taking one question each week (most weeks that is) and shining our expertise on the subject. Have a burning question that you would like answered? Shoot us email and let us know!

We kick off this series with our first question and one we get asked all the time, “what should I eat before a workout?” Most workouts take place in the early morning or evening, where energy levels can be a little more more depleted.  Thus, knowing what and when to eat becomes extra crucial.

What should I eat before a workout?

Nailing your pre-workout nutrition can take a little trial and error based on the time of day and your body. However, generally speaking – if you eat too much and too close to a workout, you’ll most likely feel stuffed, sluggish and possibly even nauseous, particularly if you’re doing high intensity work.

On the flipside, if you eat too little before a workout, you’ll run out of fuel halfway through your workout, which doesn’t do you any good either.

So the question remains, when is the time to eat before a workout and what should be eaten? Keep reading as we lay it all out for you…

WHEN should I eat before a workout?

Eat a NORMAL-SIZED meal 2-4 hours before your workout, if possible. This works well for evening workouts as you can either do an early dinner or if you’re working out closer to the 5/6pm side, you can do a meal in the mid-afternoon.

Eat a SMALL-SIZED meal (half of a normal meal) 1-2 hours before your workout, if you are shorter on time. This works well for morning workouts that start a reasonable time.

Eat a VERY SMALL-SIZED meal (half of a small meal) if less than 1 hour before your workout, if you are super short on time. This works well for super early morning workouts.

Keep in mind, the more intense the workout is, the more important the meal will become. In other words, you need the fuel to function well. Additionally, the more intense the workout is, the longer your food will need to digest, so timing becomes even more significant.

What should I eat before a workout

WHAT should I eat before a workout?

While a proper blend of carbs, protein and fat is important for your pre-workout meal, the most important component of your meal is complex, unprocessed carbs. This will be your energy source and will essentially give you the fuel you need to push hard during your workout.

Without the proper amount of carbs in your system, you’ll burnout quickly. Pre-workout meals are not the time to cut or skimp out on carbs.

Putting this all together, here are some examples of pre-workout meals:

Breakfast Ideas:

  • Steel cut oatmeal with a handful of fruit and nuts (scoop of protein powder is optional)
  • Vegetable egg omelette, sweet potato and fruit
  • Egg wrap with avocado, salsa and side of fruit
  • Plain greek yogurt topped with a handful of nuts and fruit

what should eat for a workout

Dinner Ideas:

  • Grilled chicken, sweet potato, choice of vegetable
  • Salmon, brown rice, choice of vegetable
  • Beans, brown rice, grilled peppers

pre-workout dinner

Quick Pinch Meal Ideas (very short on time, on the go and close to a workout):

  • Sprouted grain or whole wheat toast topped with a ½ avocado (low on protein but still a solid choice in a pinch)
  • Banana or fruit topped with nut butter (low on protein but still a solid choice in a pinch)
  • Plain Greek yogurt topped with handful of nuts
  • Cottage cheese topped with handful of nuts
  • Hardboiled eggs, small piece of fruit and cheese

pre-workout snack ideas

Optional Replacement Meal: Super Shake – a blend of liquid of your choice (water, milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc.), protein powder, greens (spinach blends well and is tasteless which makes it a great choice), fruit (banana blends well) and a spoonful of nut butter. The options are endless here, this just gives you a good idea of a starting place.

Super shakes can be great in a time pinch as well as a meal replacement. However, be mindful of consuming too much liquid before a workout, if you’re short of time. This can lead to poor digestion and an upset stomach.

Do you have more questions about pre-workout nutrition? If so, drop us a line and let us know! And make sure to tune in next week as we will be answering our next question…

Written by Sophie DeHenzel
What Should I Eat Before a Workout?

Photos Courtesy of Bigstock (top to bottom): Rawf8, Svt Design, TopFoodPics, Okkijan, Billberryphotography

nutrition coaching for women sophie dehenzel copy

Hi, I’m Sophie. I’m Co-Owner of DeHenzel Training Systems, Precision Nutrition Level 2 ProCoach, Certified Personal Trainer and Pre/Post Natal Specialist. I’m also a wife, mom, tennis beginner and ice cream lover.

Most importantly, I love helping people just like you gain control of their health for good. If you’re tired, frustrated and still struggling to rein in your diet and get moving, check out our personal training services and take the first step today.

About DeHenzel Training Systems: DeHenzel Training Systems offers In Home Personal Training services throughout Northern Virginia and Washington DC.  We also offer Virtual Personal Training – train anywhere, anytime!

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