What to eat before a workout

What To Eat Before A Workout In 2021

Whether you want to lose weight, get fitter or stronger, choosing when and what to eat before a workout is an important factor that can contribute to achieving your fitness goals. Whilst the time spent exercising is key, nutrition can greatly impact the results of your training.  

Your pre-workout meal can set you up for a great training session. It can not only help you sustain energy throughout your exercise, but it may also improve your performance, help to preserve lean muscle and speed up your recovery.

Pre-workout nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated; you don’t have to take any fancy supplements or eat any special foods to maximise your workout. Using the simple tips below will help boost your workouts.

When trying to decide what to eat before a workout there are a few key points to follow:

Try Not to Skip Eating Before Exercise

Exercising on an empty stomach is not ideal. It can reduce your stamina and cause you to burn out quickly leading to a weaker workout. In contrast, eating before exercise increases your energy, can improve your performance and your overall calorie burn.

Fasted Training IS NOT Better for Weight Loss

Many people think that not eating before a workout will result in better weight loss. However, exercise combined with prolonged fasting is not optimal for most fitness goals.

Whilst your body may burn more fat for fuel in a fasted state, you will actually burn fewer calories overall. Fasted training also increases the chances of the muscle being broken down as fuel.

Muscle is essential for not only strength and endurance but also for maintaining a good metabolism and achieving a more toned sculpted physique.  

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However, Don’t Force Yourself to Eat

Although it’s better to have a solid meal before you exercise, you may not feel inclined to eat before a workout.

Perhaps you can’t stomach food early in the morning or due to your busy schedule, you feel too rushed to even fit in a quick bite.

Whilst fuelling your workout is best practice, working out on empty stomach is OK as long as you keep yourself well hydrated and eat a nutritious meal or snack soon after your session.

What To Eat Before A Workout

Eat Some Protein

Protein is a must for active individuals. Eating sufficient protein around a workout can increase muscle repair as exercise can cause damage to muscle fibres.

Consuming protein around your workout can also ease post-exercise muscle soreness. It will also help to prevent potential muscle loss when dieting. You should aim to eat 20-40g of protein before your workout.

Protein sources to eat before a workout:

  • Dairy: yoghurt, cheese, milk
  • Fish & seafood: tuna, cod, salmon, prawns
  • Meat: chicken, turkey, beef, lean pork
  • Plant-based protein: tofu, tempeh, Quorn, nuts, pulses

Fuel Your Body with Carbohydrates

It’s important to refuel our bodies prior to a workout with carbs as they are our main source of energy.

Eating healthy carbohydrates will improve your exercise performance allowing you to go longer and delaying tiredness.

This is particularly key when it comes to high-intensity exercise like HIIT, sprinting or heavy resistance training. 

Carbohydrate sources to eat before a workout:

  • Fruit
  • Starchy vegetables: potatoes, yam, corn, peas, butternut squash, parsnips
  • Whole grains: oats, quinoa, rice, bulgur wheat
  • Pulses: black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils

Eat Between 30 minutes to 3 Hours Before Your Workout

The timing between eating and exercising is another important factor to consider.

If you plan on working out in less than an hour, opt for quick easily digestible foods to avoid nausea or indigestion.

Fruit with yoghurt or protein shakes is a great option if you’re pinched for time.

However, a balanced meal including complex carbohydrates, quality protein, and a moderate amount of healthy fats is an ideal choice if your workout is one to three hours later.

Time 1

Don’t Forget to Stay Hydrated!

Hydration can have just as much of an impact on workout performance as nutrition. Without adequate hydration, our bodies don’t convert food to energy as effectively.

This can make you feel tired and fatigued. Dehydration can also increase your heart rate and makes it harder for your body to regulate heat. Make sure you drink some water before your workout and stay hydrated throughout your session.

Examples of Pre-Workout Meals & Snacks

Breakfast Pre-Workout Meals

Lunch Pre-Workout Meals

  • Sandwich with wholegrain bread, lettuce, sliced turkey and low-fat mayonnaise
  • Falafel with couscous salad and hummus
  • Caesar salad with lean protein 

Dinner Pre-Workout Meals

Snack Pre-Workout Ideas

  • Yoghurt with granola and fruit
  • Rice cakes with nut butter
  • Protein bar
  • Protein shake and a banana or apple

Did you find this article useful? Do you have any other suggestions for pre-workout meals or pre-workout snacks? Share your suggestions and hacks in the comments.


Sources:


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15 Easy pre workout meals and snacks 1
What to eat before a workout

Why should you eat before a workout?

Your pre-workout meal can set you up for a great training session. It can not only help you sustain energy throughout your exercise, but it may also improve your performance, help to preserve lean muscle and speed up your recovery.

What to eat before a workout?

Pre-workout nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated; you don’t have to take any fancy supplements or eat any special foods to maximize your workout. Simply ensure you eat enough protein and carbohydrates to fuel your workouts.

Why eat protein before a workout?

Protein is a must for active individuals. Eating sufficient protein around a workout can increase muscle repair as exercise can cause damage to muscle fibers.
Consuming protein around your workout can also ease post-exercise muscle soreness. It will also help to prevent potential muscle loss when dieting. You should aim to eat 20-40g of protein before your workout.

Why eat carbohydrates before a workout?

It’s important to refuel our bodies prior to a workout with carbs as they are our main source of energy.
Eating healthy carbohydrates will improve your exercise performance allowing you to go longer and delaying tiredness.
This is particularly key when it comes to high-intensity exercise like HIIT, sprinting or heavy resistance training. 

What protein sources should I eat before a workout?

Dairy: yoghurt, cheese, milk
Fish & seafood: tuna, cod, salmon, prawns
Meat: chicken, turkey,beef, lean pork
Plant-based protein: tofu, tempeh, Quorn, nuts, pulses

What carbohydrate sources should I eat before a workout?

Fruit
Starchy vegetables: potatoes, yam, corn, peas, butternut squash, parsnips
Whole grains: oats, quinoa, rice, bulgur wheat
Pulses: black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils

Is there a specific time frame to eat before a workout?

The timing between eating and exercising is another important factor to consider.
If you plan on working out in less than an hour, opt for quick easily digestible foods to avoid nausea or indigestion.

Is fasted training better for weight loss?

Many people think that not eating before a workout will result in better weight loss. However, exercise combined with prolonged fasting is not optimal for most fitness goals.
Whilst your body may burn more fat for fuel in a fasted state, you will actually burn fewer calories overall. Fasted training also increases the chances of the muscle being broken down as fuel.
Muscle is essential for not only strength and endurance but also for maintaining a good metabolism and achieving a more toned sculpted physique.  

12 thoughts on “What To Eat Before A Workout In 2021”

  1. Real helpful information!
    My favorite pre-workout meal is a simple peanut butter & jelly sandwich, but that is also my favorite post workout snack. And breakfast as well. I just love peanut butter & jelly.

  2. Cindy Mom the Lunch Lady

    I work out in the afternoon, so try to have a protein packed lunch (really it’s breakfast because I eat with my hubby before he leaves for work). I often read that working out in a fasted state helps with weightloss, but I agree that it does take a toll on stamina and focus.

  3. Love how in-depth this post is! I agree with what you said on staying hydrated, I always make sure to have a full water bottle while working out. It’s an absolute must 🙂

  4. I never realised I should eat before running, I like to run first thing in the morning but I might need to start thinking of eating a banana or yoghurt first. Thanks very much for the eye opener!

  5. Megan Oconnell

    This was very insightful, I am getting back to working out! Thanks keep up the good work.

  6. Truly helpful information laid out well about what to eat before a workout but also to help plan overall!

  7. April Caplow

    Louise O’Boyle hi I like this video, I’m just started to workout again preparing for our short vacation, thank you

  8. Great tips to know. I will implement a few as I start back on my exercise regime to lose my COVID-19 20#! Thanks.

  9. This is so helpful for someone who doesn’t know anything about this (such as myself)! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. This is really interesting. As someone who has started working out, these tips will really help thanks!

  11. Really useful tips! I never eat before a work-out, because I indeed believed its better for weightloss
    Thank you for setting that misconception straight!

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