What to Eat Before You Exercise

Fueling correctly before your workout will help you perform better and recover quickly. Ideally, you want to have energy during the workout without feeling too full. Here’s how to achieve that ideal balance, whether you workout first thing in the morning, mid-day, or in the evening.

Early-morning Exercise Nutrition

Eat 30-60 minutes before working out

The ideal training nutrition guideline is to eat 1-2 hrs before a workout.  But there’s absolutely no reason to eat at 3 AM for a 5 AM workout!

Many people find they don’t need to eat anything at all, especially if the workout will last less than an hour. If you wake up about an hour before you exercise, you should eat a small meal that contains mostly carbs and a bit of protein. A piece of fruit, a small bowl of oatmeal, or yogurt are great choices.

Try these nutrition guidelines and see how you feel. Do you have more energy during the workout? Are you recovering better? If not, you may need to adjust the type and quantity of food to find what works best for you.

Mid-morning to Early-evening

Eat 30-60 minutes before working out

If you’ve had breakfast or lunch several hours ago and need a little fuel for your workout, then eat a pre-workout snack 30-60 minutes before training.
This is when a protein shake might be a good idea because you don’t want a heavy meal sitting in your stomach. Or try a small snack like nuts and fruit to give you energy. Some people prefer to exercise on an empty stomach — in that case, don’t eat anything after lunch. As always, be sure to eat high-quality, unprocessed food, and avoid added sugar whenever possible.

Late-night Exercise Nutrition

Eat 2-3 hours before working out

If you have time: eat 2-3 hours before working out.  A good rule of thumb is to eat a meal containing carbs, protein, and fat.  Pre-workout protein can help you maintain or increase muscle size, helps your muscles recover faster, and floods your bloodstream with amino acids. Carbs give you fuel during your exercise — even short-duration, high-intensity workouts — and help with recovery while preserving muscle and liver glycogen. They also stimulate the release of insulin, which when combined with protein, improves protein synthesis. Finally, fats help slow digestion and maintain blood glucose and insulin levels.

If you’re eating around two to three hours before exercising, you don’t have to drink a protein shake. Any source of protein is fine, and be sure to combine it with carbs and fat. Try eggs with sauteed veggies, avocado, and fruit or maybe oatmeal with a sliced banana and nuts. Chicken with rice and vegetables is another great option!

To learn more…

Connect with your coach in a Success Strategy Session to learn more about dialing in your nutrition.


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