Eating & Drinking Before a Workout

Should I Eat Before A Workout?

To get the most out of your workout, you need to give your body the right fuel. Eating a meal of snack before exercise will ensure your fuel stores (muscle glycogen) are topped up so that you can exercise harder and longer. Ideally, a pre-workout meal should be consumed 3-4 hours before exercise or a light snack 1-2 hours before exercise. This will give your body time to digest and absorb the food so that the fuel becomes available during the workout.

What Should I Eat Before A Workout?

The pre-workout meal or snack should provide carbohydrate which is the key fuel source for muscles during exercise. The body stores carbohydrate as glycogen in the muscles and liver, however, its storage capacity is limited. Starting a workout with low carbohydrate stores can lead to early fatigue and a reduced ability to train hard. The amount of carbohydrate should be specific to your activity levels and overall energy (kilojoule) budget. If you are training a few times a week with rest days in between, restoring glycogen levels will be easier. But, if you are training every day or doing more than one workout a day, focussing on topping up glycogen levels with carbohydrate should be a priority before each workout.

Food eaten before exercise should also be low in fat and moderate in fibre to make digestion easier and reduce the risk of stomach discomfort. The pre-workout meal should also help you achieve other nutrition goals which may mean including foods that include protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Start Workouts Well Hydrated

Starting workouts fully hydrated will help you train harder and achieve more during workouts. Fluid deficits as low as 2% (e.g. a deficit of 1.2 litres for a 60 kilograms person) can have negative effects on performance. Dehydration makes exercise much harder and puts your health at risk, so it is important not to carry fluid deficits from one exercise session to the next. Consuming 400-600 millilitres of water or sports drink at least 2-4 hours before your workout will help make up any fluid deficits from previous workouts.

How Do I Know If I’m Hydrated?

By monitoring urine volume and colour before working out, you can judge for yourself whether you are sufficiently hydrated. Large amounts of clear or light-yellow urine is a good indication that you are well hydrated. Small volumes of dark urine suggest more fluids are needed before heading to the gym.

The above content is intended for informational and educational purposes only, and in no way is any of the content to be construed as medical or dietary advice or instruction. For personalised medical or diet advice, please consult with your medical/health or dietary/nutritional professional.


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