All of these snacks will keep you from feeling too full and will provide the nutrients you need to help power you through your workouts. 2) Protect Your Hard Earned Muscle – When you workout hard, especially with heavy weights, the body is in a catabolic environment, which can break down muscle tissue to use it as energy. 3) Increased Muscle Growth – Eating protein during your workout meal can help slowly release amino acids into your blood stream, which can promote protein synthesis.
While there are benefits of a pre-workout meal, if you are on a fat loss program, you must budget in the calories of your pre-workout meal. Some guys will have big pre and post-workout meals without any appreciation for how those extra calories effect their total calorie intake. Whether you are trying to lose fat, or build muscle, having an appreciation for the calorie implications of your pre and post-workout meals can be very helpful for you.
To construct the best pre-workout meal possible, we need to understand the rate of digestion of different foods to determine meal timing. In general, dietary fat takes around 6-8 hours to digest, protein 3-4 hours, and carbs 2-3 hours (depending on the source).
Dietary Fat – Because fat takes the longest to digest, the pre-workout meal should be relatively low in fat, so stay away from fatty meats and oils.
Protein – A moderate amount of a meat (4-8 ounces) or dairy sources that are low in fat can work. Carbohydrates – Low Glycemic (slowly releases into blood stream) carbohydrates should help fill up glycogen stores to help you power through a tough workout and also create a more anabolic effect. The challenge is knowing how much food you can eat pre-workout, which is based on your own response.
If you are fueling for overall performance for an intense athletic event, more carbs should be added. Great info, replenishing and preparing your body for an intense workout is key for maximizing results! Again, I think pre-workout nutrition is something you should play with to see what works best for you. What do you think about the eating protocol called Intermittent Fasting or Lean Gains, which highlights fasted workouts. Just wanted to mention the last part because people are going to panic to eat something before training and if they train fasted, they are going to think they are going to lose their muscles, when in fact, they wouldn’t. This gives people an option, who train in the early morning, to not have to fuss or fret over chugging a pre-workout supplement like a protein shake, before heading to the gym.
Hey Marc, good article however I disagree with your point of few about fats as you have based your recommendation on the fact that fat takes longer to digest.
Did you try something light like a banana, or even some gatorade (not ideal, but can work)?
I wake up to do cardio at 430am, do I need a meal before or is workin out on an empty stomach ok? I start work really early so dont get time to train so I workout in the afternoon after work , would you suggest a Protien shake with blended in oats about hour and half before workout?? More on this to come soon, but here is a simple diagram to help you remember general fueling recommendations for pre- and post-workout nutrition.


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Definitely read labels but you can find varieties with sweet potato only or with sweet potato or squash plus a little bit of fruit. When you say, “I always seemed to feel better for my long runs if I had a decent amount of carbs in them,” can you be more specific about the type of carbs and roughly how much? I’m prepared to still use some gels and sports drink during my long runs, but with some natural alternatives in there too, like dates, sultanas, or homemade Lara bars.
I certainly wasn’t fat adapted, as looking back I can see that I did most of my training at much too high a HR to draw on fat stores. Yeah, it sounds like your standard breakfast was relatively low in protein and possibly the banana was a bit to high GI for you? The dried fruit is okay but it contains mostly fructose which isn’t metabolized in quite the same way by the body as a starchy veg or glucose-based drink. Sounds like you’re taking the steps you need to now to make sure everything goes well on the next race day.
Pre and Post Workout Meals are crucial to fuel your workouts and recover from them if you want to meet your physique or performance goals.
Before you workout: You need to make sure you have enough energy to hit your workout hard, without feeling weighed down.
Try eating snacks high in carbs (your pre-workout BFF giving you the energy you need) and protein (repairs and builds muscle) and always be well hydrated. I am a firm believer in using about 90% whole foods for nutrition and the rest with supplementation. There are a lot of people training while fasted, and gaining muscle mass as there are people who are training while fasting, and losing body fat while retaining muscle. Thank you for sharing everything (pre post workout meals and your article on over training was so useful). Sugars are a type of carb (in addition to starch) and it’s more preferable to focus post-workout carbs on starches from veggies compared to fruit. But if one were to be doing an activity that would use a LOT of glycogen would this change at all? You have to remember that even when glycogen is fully topped off, we only have (at best) about 500 grams of it present in the body.
During my 12 hour mountain bike racing days, I generally used some sort of carb drink like Vitargo. I now have switched back to meat and healthy fats as my breakfast, but I haven’t built back up to long runs yet. At the moment I’m working on training with a much lower HR to train my body to be much more efficient and fat adapted.
It’s not to say they’re bad but you may do better with something like pureed sweet potato with some apple mixed in and stuffed into a reusable gel flask? Whether you’ve lifted weights, done cardio or put your body through a strength and conditioning session, you need to give yourself the fuel your body needs to repair, grow and get ready for your next workout! I take a 6:30 am spin class or a 6 am weights class, so eating anything that early is hard to squeeze in.


I especially thing that creatine and beta alenine supplements help keep your energy levels high during and after the workout phase.
I recently started playing women’s tackle football so we have pretty intense workouts at least 3 days a week.
This article helped me to discover that I have all the ingredients I need in my own kitchen to build my own pre workout meal. Pre-workout for me is usually something like leftover cooked meat or an egg and a handful of nuts. They taste great and are pretty easy to bring with you, plus there’s enough variety that you can rotate it in with your sources.
It doesn’t mean you can never have fruit but just that the starchy veggies are going to be more effective at replacing muscle glycogen. Have you tried to cut down on how much you’re eating post-workout into a smaller quantity? When I did my first marathon earlier this year I stopped eating Paleo as I just found it too hard.
For marathons and long distance endurance events (over 60 min in duration), that glycogen is going to be long gone and hopefully, if one is fat-adapted, you’ll be able to rely on your fat stores for energy through beta oxidation. I was feeling bloated and nauseous before even the halfway point- a true lesson in mental toughness!!
You want your digestive system to have an easy job of putting your pre-workout food to good use.
The best post-workout meal or snack is one which combines protein and carbohydrates and, unless you have a lot of weight to lose, this is one time that you can get away with some less-than-saintly carb choices.
If I have a non-fat Greek yogurt, I always feel a little nauseous but is a banana is enough before an hour-long workout early in the morning? From my understanding of biology, it takes a longer time for catabolism of the muscles, to occur. Can you please give me advise on low carb pre-workout foods to keep my energy level up throughtout practice?
We’re not saying go crazy with candy bars, but you can definitely work some cereal, a bagel or a healthier (home-baked) muffin into the post-workout window.
For post-workout, any of the same proteins apply (though I would keep away from egg yolk because of the fat content). Don’t forget to get plenty of fluids in, too, particularly if you workout early in the morning. If you tolerate it well, you might want to try whey protein shakes (not ideal though good for convenience sake). Sweet potato or any starchy veggie (pumpkin, hard squash, taro, yucca, etc) is great for replenishing carbs. I have a busy schedule working as much as I do if I could be eating the right foods at the right time that would make getting in shape all that much easier.



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