Do you need to eat before or after your workout? This is a rhetorical question… The answer is always yes.

If there were no documented benefits to pre-workout nutrition, then an entire field of research wouldn’t exist. It is well-known that pre-workout nutrition can help maximize your workout. Today you will learn why.

This blog will discuss fueling up before hitting the gym, running the court, or hiking.


Understanding the importance of pre-workout nutrition is crucial before diving into the best foods for maximizing your workout. First, exercise requires energy. Your body cannot generate energy by storing energy from food or storage. It can take some time for stored energy to be converted into ATP (or energy) during exercise because it is not always available.

Do you ever feel a bit sluggish when you start your workout? Is it challenging to get your body moving again? You don’t eat food before beginning to train. This is because your body needs to have time to burn stored energy. Where does that stored energy come from?

You always have ATP (or energy) in your body that is free and available to you immediately. This can provide power for a few moments. Your phosphocreatine system will then be exhausted. However, it will last only 10-15 seconds. Your anaerobic or aerobic energy systems can last between 2 and 3 minutes, depending on the fuel used.


If you don’t eat before training, what are you consuming in energy? Your muscles and liver will first break down stored glycogen, or carbohydrates. This process is known as glycogenolysis, and it is the fastest way to produce ATP. This pathway is the only one that can have energy at high exercise intensities. Your body can oxidize fats for fuel at lower intensities. However, this can be slow and costly.

Why is it important to eat before training? You provide your body with immediate energy, giving you more strength and focus and helping prevent injury. Pre-workout meals and snacks are all about enhancing performance. Studies show that even a tiny amount of carbohydrate (30-60g) 30-60 minutes before training can reduce fatigue and prolong exhaustion.

What foods are best for pre-workout meals and snacks? Carbohydrates are the primary fuel for all our energy systems regardless of intensity. Carbohydrates are quick to digest and absorb, providing immediate energy for your muscles.

Your body can also get energy from fats. Fats are more difficult to use because they take longer to digest and absorb.

Looking for information on what to eat after a workout? This Wellness Blog provides helpful information about nutrition and recovery.

What kind of pre-workout food should you eat?

The body does not need protein to improve its exercise performance. It is a strange concept, but it’s true. You won’t be able to train harder or longer if you don’t eat protein before your workout. It can help to delay soreness, improve recovery and prevent muscle loss, which is never bad!

What should your go-to pre-workout meal/snack be? Below are some examples. For more information on how to eat well and improve performance, take a look at the Certified NASM Sports Nutrition Coach course.

Oatmeal/overnight oatmeal with honey, fruit, and dark chocolate

Oatmeal is rich in complex carbohydrate and can be easily digested by the body. It can also sustain energy levels for quite a while. You can add honey and fruits to the mix, and you will increase carbohydrate absorption. Different types of carbs absorb through various transporters.

For example, fructose and glucose are absorbed through different transporters in your gut. This allows for maximum carbohydrate absorption. Because it is high in magnesium, dark chocolate is a wonderful addition. A vital electrolyte/mineral that is lost in sweat is required for muscle contractions.

Greek yogurt bowl with granola

No matter what time it is, protein can be good to eat. Consuming protein before a workout can help to boost recovery and prevent muscle loss. A bonus to eating protein pre-workout is the following: This makes it less important to eat protein right after your workout. Protein doesn’t give us the energy we need during exercise, so it is important to eat rich carbohydrates such as granola or fruit.

Sweet potatoes

The sweet potato is a complex carb that is extremely rich. Although it is slower to digest than white potatoes, the slow release of energy and fiber provides sustained energy levels so that you don’t go crazy.

Avocado toast

Avocado is a great healthy fat choice and high in potassium. Another essential electrolyte that is lost in sweat is potassium. This is necessary for normal fluid balance and muscle contraction. The combination of fats and carbohydrate can slow down the release of energy so that you have sustained levels for a longer time.

Sushi, but not the fried variety

Sushi is the ideal combination of light protein, carbohydrate, electrolytes and healthy fat. To prevent muscle loss, protein and carbohydrates for energy. Soy sauce also contains sodium to aid in hydration.

Although the effects of exercise aren’t significant for sessions shorter than 45 minutes or low-intensity, you can be in a catabolic state if you don’t get enough nutrients. Catabolism is the process of breaking down larger molecules into smaller molecules.

When you exercise, your body will use your stored energy to fuel your muscles. Low blood sugar and an increased chance of dehydration are two major risks. Combining these two factors together can increase the likelihood of injury or illness. This is especially true if you focus on something other than proper post workout nutrition.


Do you need to eat a snack before working out? Yes, it is. These are your guidelines for pre-workout nutrition:

You should ensure that you have eaten a snack or meal pre-workout within three hours of your exercise.

Consuming a carbohydrate-rich snack and protein before you exercise is the best way to maximize your performance.

your pre-workout snack should have between 30-60g carbohydrates. If you are an active individual or advanced athlete, you can aim for 1g/kg of carbohydrates 60 minutes before training.

For pre-workout snacks, aim for between 10 and 15g protein.

High-intensity sessions are best served with carbohydrate-rich snacks, while low-intensity sessions will benefit from fats.