8 Practical Pre-Workout Meals to Improve your Workouts

8 Practical Pre-Workout Meals to Improve your Workouts

Many otherwise healthy people miss the mark on pre-workout nutrition. Some greatly overthink it while others neglect to put any thought into it at all.

It’s not complicated, but it is important. The food you eat 30–90 minutes before working out fuels your training. Without the right fuel, well, you can imagine how that ends.

Eating right not only gives your muscles what they need to recover and grow, but also gives you the mental energy you need to complete a demanding workout.

Learn how to have a better workout by getting your pre-workout meal right. You’ll also get four easy meal ideas for morning workouts and four for hitting the gym after work.

How Much Should I Eat?

The meal you eat pre-workout might really be more of a snack. This isn’t the right time for your biggest meal of the day. If you overdo it, you won’t feel like working out very hard and might even end up sick.

Somewhere in the 200–300 calorie range should work for most people. Always keep your overall daily calorie goal in mind and listen to your body.

Your goal is to eat this small meal at least 30 minutes prior to hitting the gym. If your food is sitting heavy, try moving the timing back.

What Should I Eat Before a Workout?

Now is not the time to be staunchly low-carb. You’ll want plenty of carbohydrates to give you the energy to complete a workout. However, stay clear of quick digesting carbs that will just cause an insulin spike. An insulin spike could lead to dizziness and also inhibit fat loss.

You’ll also want to take in some protein. Every gym rat knows it’s important to consume protein post-workout, but many neglect to eat any before they train.

Protein contains branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are absorbed by your muscles during training. This helps prevent muscle breakdown. Pre-workout protein intake also helps jumpstart muscle protein synthesis during training.

Here’s a note to those of you who just can’t stand the thought of eating early in the morning. Consider taking a BCAA supplement before or during your workout to help prevent muscle breakdown.

Give Corey at Unleashed Sports Nutrition a call for more information on what supplements are right for you. He will set up with a custom plan that will help you reach your fitness goals!

It is generally recommended to keep fat intake to a minimum. Fat will slow the digestion of protein and carbs which means your muscles won’t have quick access.

Here are eight suggestions for easy food pairings or simple meals that hit the target macros for pre-workout nutrition.

4 Pre-Workout Meals for Early Risers

  1. Berries + Whey + Water Smoothie
     1 serving of mixed frozen berries and 1 scoop of whey isolate makes a 180 calorie shake with 25g protein.

2. Whole Grain Frozen Waffles + Peanut Butter
 1 serving of each (2 waffles and 2TB of peanut butter) is a 350 calorie breakfast.

3. Whole Wheat or Ezekiel Toast + Hard Boiled Egg
 Depending on your calorie goals, you can have one of each for 150 calories or double it for 300.

4. Overnight Oats (Rolled Oats + Greek Yogurt + ½ banana + almond milk)
 The night before you train, mix ¼ cup oats, 4oz nonfat greek yogurt, and ½ mashed banana in a Tupperware dish. Stir to combine and add a small amount of almond milk or water if it seems dry. The oats will soften overnight. Just give it a quick stir before eating in the morning. 250 calories.

4 Pre-Workout Meals for Evening Trainers

  1. Rice Cake + Almond Butter + Cottage Cheese + Cinnamon
     For a 250 calorie snack have 1 rice cake, 1TB of almond butter, ½ cup cottage cheese and top with cinnamon. You can easily assemble this at work.

2. Brown Rice + Shredded Salsa Chicken
 Make a large batch of “salsa chicken” at the start of the week. Simply combine chicken breasts and salsa in a crockpot and cook on low all day. The meat will easily shred with a fork when it’s done. Then just pack 4oz shredded chicken with 1 serving of brown rice. Total of 325 calories.

3. Sweet Potato + Ground Turkey
 Saute ground turkey in seasonings of your choice. Have 4oz of ground turkey with 1 cooked sweet potato for 250 calories.

4. Plain Greek Yogurt + Banana
 One “single serve” plain 2% greek yogurt with one medium banana is a 250 calorie snack.

Written By Megan Baird