A question I get all the time, “What should I eat before I workout?”
Usually, my response is, “LOL. IDK. How do you usually feel before, during and after your workouts?!”
Does that make me an asshole or what? Before you answer that, hear me out.
The question itself (usually asked via Instagram DM), “What should I eat before I workout” seems simple, but it’s really not. Nutrition is entirely personal, unique to you, and revolves around YOUR needs as an individual. If I don’t know you, have no idea what your goals are, or have an understanding of your dietary needs what makes you think I (or really anyone for that matter) am qualified to answer that question?
Today, we live in a world where we want to be told what to do, and when to do it, and how. If only changing your body were that simple.
The below is an outline to help YOU determine what YOU should eat before YOUR workout if YOU decide to eat anything at all.
Components to Consider
- Nutrition as fuel
Nutrition as Fuel:
Before a workout, you need something that is FAST DIGESTING so you don’t feel like you’re going to hurl mid burpee. The building blocks of energy come from carbs, and the building blocks of building muscle tissue come from protein. Fat really doesn’t have much of a place in your pre-workout nutrition so keep it at a minimum. A rule of thumb that I like to follow is:
Carbs: 20-25% of your daily total
Fat: 10% or less of your daily total
If you’re doing an hour-long gym workout or HIIT workout you most likely only need 150-300 calories. Don’t go insane here; you’re not eating for survival. This isn’t your last meal, after all.
Note: If you’re in the endurance space, your needs will greatly differ.
You’re dealing with FAST DIGESTING sources, so you need to find the sweet spot between consumption and capitalization. Most people find that eating 1-3 hours before a scheduled workout gives them the boost of energy they need without feeling weighed down. Again, this isn’t something that can be prescribed for you; it has to be determined BY you. Play around with your consumption window to see what feels right.
A few basic ideas include:
- A bowl of oatmeal with a scoop of protein powder
- Egg whites with a piece of toast
- A protein pancake or waffle
- A blended protein shake + a banana
- A small piece of chicken breast with steamed veggies
OR – eat nothing at all. Just because other people “have” to eat before they workout doesn’t mean that YOU do. To find the best approach for you, you should test out ALL scenarios. Try working out on an empty stomach (my method of choice) if you haven’t already. You may just LOVE the way it feels.