Guidelines for Effective Pre-Workout Nutrition

August 21, 2012

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For competitive athletes, what to eat or what supplement to take before a workout has become an increasingly popular topic. Pre-workout nutrition is important. You need to fuel your body with energy to power through intense training sessions.

Honestly, any food consumed pre-workout is better than no food at all. Here are some guidelines to consider when choosing your next pre-workout meal.


Try to eat 30 to 90 minutes before your workout. Eating too close to training can cause you to feel full and bloated, which reduces the effectiveness of your workout. The 30- to 90-minute time frame is a general recommendation. It should be adjusted to meet individual nutrition needs. Some athletes must eat 90 minutes before a workout or they feel sick, while others are fine when eating 30 minutes before. Do what works best for you to get the most out of your workout.

Go easy

Don't fill up on food. This seems obvious, but it's surprising how many athletes start training after eating the equivalent of an average Thanksgiving dinner. You want enough to fuel your workout, but not so much that you can't get out of your car at the gym.


You need all three macro-nutrients: carbohydrate, protein and fat. When making your pre-workout food choices, aim for a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein, and do not exceed ten grams of fat. Since carbs are what fuel most of your workout, take in at least 20 grams.

An easy pre-workout meal is a protein shake and an apple. The shake provides protein and fat, and the apple provides carbs for workout fuel.

Ryan Colquhoun
- Ryan Colquhoun is an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach. He has worked with athletes from age 6 to professional, of...
Ryan Colquhoun
- Ryan Colquhoun is an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach. He has worked with athletes from age 6 to professional, of...
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