In this article, you’ll read about our top recommended pre-workout foods, including:
You’ll also read about the following:
The Benefits Of Eating Pre-Workout Foods
There’s nothing worse than being too worn out to finish a workout. Eating before going to the gym can help you to train for longer and at a higher intensity — who wouldn’t want that?
Failing to give your body the right nutrition before a workout may lead to delay in muscle recovery and possible injury — you definitely don’t want this.1
Consuming a pre-workout snack can help with physical performance2, prevent fatigue3 and reduce muscle breakdown, so, where’s a good place to start?4
When To Eat Pre-Workout Foods
Choosing when to fuel will depend greatly on the type of activity you’re engaging in and the system your body is using for energy. The three main systems your body uses are the phosphagen, anaerobic, and aerobic.
If you are engaging in a short activity (~20-30 minutes of walking) the chances are you don’t need to fuel for this beforehand because our bodies will have endless stores of fat to fuel for this activity. However, if you’re engaging in high-intensity sessions including intermittent team sports and weightlifting, your body will benefit from fuelling beforehand as it will mainly use glycogen/glucose stores.
Most of the studies available recommend a window of approximately 2-3 hours before you exercise as the ideal time to consume a pre-workout snack/meal.8 If you’re eating 1 hour before your workout, it may be best to choose foods that are easier to digest to avoid stomach discomfort. For example, try and stick to carbohydrate and protein only.
What Pre-Workout Foods and Macros To Eat
What you choose to eat and how much will depend on the type of exercise you’re doing, the length of time, and when you’re doing it. Research shows that meals containing a higher amount of carbohydrates than protein or fat are more beneficial to maximise muscular endurance in resistance training, meaning you can go harder for longer.5
1.Porridge And Oatmeal
Oats are a wholegrain carbohydrate with a low glycaemic index, meaning they’re more slowly digested, helping to release energy more slowly and makes you feel fuller too. Add a portion of fruit for a further boost in energy and flavour.
You can also consider adding 1 scoop of protein powder for flavour and extra protein to help promote muscle growth and repair too.
2. Boiled Egg On A Slice of Granary Seeded Toast
Boiled eggs are a great lean source of protein and their yolk contains a lot of nutrition. Combine this with a slice of bread for a good carbohydrate addition to boost energy.
3. Greek Yoghurt With A Portion Of Fruit
Greek yoghurt is a great source of protein and adding some fruit is a good source of carbs for energy too. You could also try a small handful of dried fruit with your yoghurt to provide a quicker spike in your blood sugars and energy. Dried fruit is higher in sugar than fresh fruit and should be used cautiously, especially if you are watching your blood sugars for health reasons. If this is the case, you can add a portion of fresh fruit instead.
4. Banana or Grapes
Both these fruits tend to increase your blood sugars slightly more than other fruit options. Eating either before your workout is the perfect way to boost your glycogen stores and increase your blood sugar levels.
5. Chicken, Rice & Vegetables
A classic workout meal used by bodybuilders everywhere. The underlying success behind this meal is the combination of lean protein, a quality carbohydrate, and non-starchy vegetables. As explained above, all three foods having unique properties that will help provide your body with fuel during your workout and help with recovery afterwards.
6. Smoothies With Fruit, Vegetables And Yoghurt
Many of you may think that smoothies are really healthy, but they’re often rich in calories and sugar as most of the fibre is removed during the blending process. However, a smoothie can be a great pre-workout option that can provide you with a good source of fast-acting glucose. Just be mindful of how much fruit you add, try having 1 portion with some vegetable and yoghurt to get in some protein in as well.
Take home message
There are also many other ideas of foods that you can have as a pre-workout and the list can be endless. These are just a few suggestions and the idea is that you focus mainly on carbohydrate and protein, so that you can take your workout to the next level.