Making the right food choice before exercising can be the difference between an okay workout and a great one. Check out our top nutrition tips to fuel your training.
The right meal or snack before a workout not only helps to fuel your body and maximise performance, but also can help your muscles to recover and repair quicker following your session.
Get the right balance of macronutrients
Carbohydrates, protein and fat are the nutrients your body needs in large amounts to give you energy (macronutrients). Each macronutrient plays a different role before and during exercise, but carbs and protein are particularly important for your pre-workout meal. The balance and ratio of nutrients you need depends on the type of workout you’ll be doing.
Including carbs in your pre-workout meal fuels your muscles by using the glucose from these foods. This is your body’s main source of energy for short, high intensity training – without sufficient fuel, it makes it much harder to perform these exercises well.
Protein is needed to build and repair cells. A protein-rich diet can contribute to better muscle recovery, performance and lean body mass.
For lower intensity, longer training, your body uses fat as fuel. Focus on including healthy fats in your diet if you need to fuel your body for a sustained period.
Timing is key
Timing your meal before working out is also important to factor in to maximise performance and avoid feeling uncomfortable.
Try and eat a full meal (containing each macronutrient) two to three hours before you train. Or, if you can’t fit in a full meal a couple hours before exercise, try and have an easy-to-digest snack containing carbs and protein around 45 to 60 minutes before.
Don’t forget to hydrate
Water is just as important as food choices when it comes to working out. Dehydration can hinder your performance and can be dangerous – so make sure you’re sufficiently hydrated before, during and after your workout.
Pre-workout meal and snack ideas
If eating a meal two to three hours before exercise, give these a go:
- Eggs and wholemeal toast with avocado
- Wholemeal toast with nut butter and banana
- Overnight oats with low-fat milk (or a dairy-free alternative) with fruit, nuts and seeds
- Lean protein (such as poached chicken or turkey) with some brown rice or sweet potato and vegetables
Try these snack ideas if you’re eating an hour before exercise:
- Yoghurt and fruit
- A small piece of fruit with some nuts
- Homemade protein-rich smoothie
- A protein nutrition bar