Pre-Workout Nutrition Tips

By Dave Monahan, CSCS

At least once a week an ARXer asks, "What should I eat before a workout?" Or, I notice that an ARX member doesn't have his or her usual amount of energy and as a result has a sub-par performance in the gym. A little attention to pre-workout nutrition -- you need to eat before you work out in order to have the proper fuel and energy to carry you through the challenge of the day -- can have a strong, positive impact on performance. 

Here are a few tips to help you fuel your body correctly in order to maximize your performance and get the results you want:

  • Eat 1-2 hours before you exercise
  • If you must eat 30 minutes or less before a workout, eat lightly
  • Choose a pre-workout meal or snack that is relatively low in fat and low in fiber so it is easy to digest
  • Eat something your body is used to. Do not experiment with new foods right before a workout or you may suffer from an upset stomach at an inopportune time.

Examples of appropriate pre-workout snacks/meals include:

  • Fruit, such as a banana, apple or pear. Adding a small amount of all-natural peanut or almond butter can boost flavor and healthy fat to keep you going.
  • Handful of almonds and raisins 
  • Protein shake or smoothie. Try blending some strawberries, mango, orange juice, honey, banana, handful of oats and a scoop (20-30 grams) of whey protein
  • Oatmeal with cinnamon, honey and fruit

Try some of these suggestions and feel your performance improve. Keep in mind, that these are general recommendations that work for a majority of exercisers. However, you may need to make adjustments if you are gluten or lactose intolerant or follow a Paleo diet. And if you are specifically looking to lose body fat (rather than build muscle), consider a pre-workout meal that limits or avoids starchy carbs, such as oatmeal, bread or cereal. Save those for your post-workout meal when your body is primed to burn carbs. Instead rely on good fat (such as that found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and all-natural nut butters) and protein to get you through your workout.

We will address these and other issues in future newsletter installments. In the meanwhile, feel free to speak with your ARX trainer if you have any further nutrition-related questions.