Pre-workout: What to Eat Before a Workout

Pre-workout What to Eat Before a Workout

For the majority of bodybuilders and athletes, not having a well-calibrated meal or snack before a workout or physical challenge is a sure step towards failure.

Indeed, the practice that follows this "faux pas" often turns out to be a waste of time and energy.

Pre-workout: What to Eat Before a Workout

Eat Properly!

Nutrition is one of the pillars of your progress, you know that you need to ensure optimal intakes of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, whatever your goal.

Omitting this point, both in terms of quantity and quality, is only counterproductive, and leads you to regression in every way.

Therefore, you need to establish the best possible nutrition plan, including pre-workout, to maximize your energy, your progress, and your future gains!

Pre-workout diet

What we eat before (and after! (And even during!)) Training is above all determined by our personal preferences, our food tolerance, our sporting experience, and above all: by the nature and duration of the effort pursued.

When and what you eat before exercise will make a big difference to your performance and recovery.

A reminder of the main objectives of pre-workout nutrition:

Provide enough energy to propel you through your workout.

Start the recovery process much faster.

Improve your performance and athletic qualities (namely strength, endurance, mental focus, or power).

Positively affect your body composition (for example, aid recovery to build muscle or minimize muscle damage).

Hydration, which helps in faster recovery and better performance.


There are 3 macronutrients to worry about at all times namely protein, carbohydrate, and fat. In the case of pre-workout nutrition, carbohydrates and protein are the two main things to focus on.

Lipids before exercise:

Certainly, while fat plays a major role in the body and your good health, its longer digestion time affects other foods as well. It’s not interesting right before a workout.

Slow digestion.

Maintains blood sugar and helps assimilate vitamins and minerals.

Does not appear to improve or decrease athletic performance.

Does not participate in fueling the effort (what we use carbohydrates for).

Carbohydrates before exercise:

This is the real fuel for your pre-workout strategy and your workout, even more so than protein.

A small reminder, glycogen is what feeds the muscles during efforts that can be described as endurance (in parallel with phosphocreatine and triglycerides) and come from the carbohydrates that you ingest.

However, the body relies heavily on carbohydrates to fuel muscles during exercise to maximize your performance.

Through a series of chemical reactions, carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars via glycogen, resulting in usable energy: Glucose.

Stimulates the release of insulin, prevents protein degradation, against catabolism (which improves protein synthesis).

Help with the provision of fuel and help maintain effort.

Fuel your effort and can improve high-intensity training as well.

Preserves muscle and hepatic glycogen.

Carbohydrates: more exactly, the resulting glucose; are your body's preferred fuel source. This is why it is beneficial to eat the majority of your carbohydrates around your workout.

However, we do not recommend that you binge on rice or pasta, or even worse, candy, all day. We only tell you that you need it to fuel your body to train at your peak performance.

You want every gram of carbohydrate consumed to be used as an immediate fuel source or to restore your glycogen stores and help you recover physiologically and psychologically. Not that it is stored as fat.

Thus, you must be attentive to your needs, and at best distribute your carbohydrates evenly according to your efforts during a typical day.

For example, most range from around 40 grams of mid-absorption carbohydrate in the meal before strength training.

Protein before exercise:

Protein taken pre-workout does one thing, save muscle tissue from exertion and prevent muscle protein from being used as a source of energy.

Remember, you don't want to use YOUR protein for energy. You want your body to have optimal levels of amino acids (including Leucine and BCAAs) so that it does what it is supposed to do best: save, build, and repair muscle tissue.

Boosts muscle building.

Reduces muscle damage; (The less damage to your muscles, the faster you recover, and the better you adapt in the long run).

Help Maintain Muscle Mass So not only are you preventing damage, but you are promoting gains! ).

But before you rush into a powdered protein shake, know that any good quality source is fine.

Thus, any lean protein source up to 30g of BCAA-rich protein, taken before a workout is perfectly fine.


Remember, the nutrition around training is individual specific and there is no one type of scenario!

A quick example: endurance athletes have very different nutritional needs from an amateur bodybuilding practitioner or a weightlifting champion (strength/power sport).

However, in terms of the numbers for pre-workout nutrition, you can be provided with a set of sane, evidence-based guidelines for estimating a good approach.

Depending on what suits your individual needs, you can simply have a normal meal the few hours before exercise, or you can have a small meal just before your workout the 60 to 45 minutes before workout.

It probably goes without saying, but in your pre-workout diet choose foods that don't upset your gastric system. Otherwise, beware of unpleasant surprises ...

Recommendations for endurance efforts


The top macronutrients in this context are of course carbohydrates, to help replenish muscle glycogen, maintain endurance quality and energy during exercise.

2-4 hours before: preferably solid

Eat a balanced meal, composed of carbohydrates and proteins, from 0.1 to 0.2 g / kg in terms of carbohydrates and proteins, always according to your weight

Adding fat at this time is possible, just use it sparingly as long as it fits your macronutrient needs.

Types of carbohydrates:

It should be a mixture of medium and slow-acting carbohydrates. Try to stay away from simple sugars and high GIs.

30-60 minutes before: preferably liquid

Semi-liquid liquid carbohydrates to aid digestion, 0.1 to 0.2 g / kg of body weight for carbohydrates, and 0.1 g / Kg for proteins which are of less importance here.

Avoid lipids.

Think about liquids or gels

Endurance activities are typical efforts lasting at least 60 minutes. Due to the submaximal but prolonged nature of this type of effort, muscle glycogen is very very depleted.

Therefore, athletes need more or fewer carbohydrates to maintain energy levels, endurance and replenish muscle and liver glycogen stores.

Recommendations for strength / power sports

Here, the preferred macronutrient is of course proteins, to optimize recovery as well as muscle growth and minimize muscle catabolism.

2-4 hours before: solid

Eat a balanced meal, consisting of carbohydrates and protein, 0.1 to 0.2 g / kg in terms of carbohydrates and protein, depending on your weight.

Adding fat here is possible, just use it sparingly as long as it fits your macronutrient needs.

Always a mixture of medium and slow-acting carbohydrates. Stay away from simple sugars and high GI

30-60 minutes before: preferably liquid

A liquid or semi-liquid protein with rapid assimilation with carbohydrates IF NEEDED, from 0.1 to 0.2 g / kg of body weight for proteins and 0.1 g / kg for carbohydrates.

Here, avoid lipids.

Strength / Power sports are characterized by repeated efforts of short duration, intense to very intense.

Although a session can last several hours, the total amount of actual work done is usually around 45 to 60 minutes.

Based on this amount of time, and the activities associated with these types of sports, little or no muscle glycogen is depleted compared to endurance efforts.

Therefore, protein is important for supporting muscle growth and strength gain while minimizing damage and muscle catabolism.

What can be good food choices?

Pre-workout: What to Eat Before a Workout

Fortunately, there are plenty of recommended pre-workout foods out there, and the list could be endless depending on preferences and sensibilities.

But we will not offer you more common ones that are adapted before training:


Sweet potato, oats, berries, quinoa, banana, brown rice, sprouted bread, berries, etc.


Chicken, turkey, egg, protein powder, cottage cheese, lean fish, protein powder, 0% cottage cheese, etc.

Interesting supplements before training

Following, we will provide you with some supplements that can be useful just before or during sports training.


The great classic! Caffeine helps boost energy and increases endurance, focus, and strength.


Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps reduce exercise-induced fatigue, improves anaerobic exercise capacity, and may accelerate muscle growth.


Another necessity is branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which help prevent muscle breakdown during exercise and increase your focus. This allows you to train longer with less fatigue and therefore get the most out of your session.

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline is an amino acid that improves muscle endurance, relieves muscle pain, and improves aerobic performance.


Betaine is a compound found in beets (for example), which improves muscle endurance, strength, and the levels of growth hormone released.


Ornithine is an amino acid found in large amounts in dairy products and meat that helps reduce fatigue during prolonged exercise and promotes lipid oxidation (burning fat for energy, as opposed to carbohydrates or glycogen).


Theanine is a molecule mainly present in tea that reduces the effects of mental and physical stress, increases the production of NO, improves congestion and concentration;

What to avoid before training

Raw sugar or candy.

Sports drinks that contain simple sugars in any form.

Fat food.

Foods high in fructose.

Pre-Workout Binge Eating (Eating too much at the wrong time could lead to nausea and vomiting).

Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking water.

Individualize your strategy by experimenting with what works best for you.

To remember
Every athlete has special needs.

Of course, if you are an endurance athlete, for you it will be carbohydrates, and calorie needs will be higher than for a bodybuilding practitioner.

Your actual needs vary depending on your size, your goals, your genetics, the duration and intensity of your activity!

For example, if you are prepping for a 30 km run you will need more carbohydrates than someone starting a 45-minute weight training session.

Thus, if you are more of a “bodybuilder” type, that you lift weights above all for muscle growth, then your proteins and your caloric needs will be higher.

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