Worrying about what is good to eat before a workout?
We’ve all been there—scoffing a banana 30 minutes before an intense circuits class in the hope it’ll give you enough energy, then spend the next half an hour feeling slightly nauseous.
Deciding what is good to eat before a workout can be tricky. It’s essential to think about the activity you have planned and the goals you have in mind.
With this in mind, we spoke to four of the best personal trainers around to find out exactly what they think is good to eat before a workout—be it HIIT training or triceps exercises.
Finally an answer to the age-old question: Peanut butter or protein shake?
WHAT IS GOOD TO EAT BEFORE A WORKOUT?:
FROM HIIT TO SPIN
WHAT IS GOOD TO EAT BEFORE A WORKOUT THAT’S INTENSE?
Numerous studies have named high-intensity training the winner for fat loss.
This is based largely on the impact it can have compared to the same period spent doing cardio, and the after-burn effect (especially if you include resistance). But what is good to eat before a workout as intense as HIIT? if If you’re gearing up to go hard, you’re going to need sustenance, right? Helle Hammonds from Gymclass recommends:
- Half a banana and some yoghurt
- Training fasted
- Figuring out what works for you.
“Make sure it is something light that can be easily digested by your body. What you eat pre-workout is something that you should experiment with. Most people think their way is best, but there’s no right or wrong answer.
You can train fasted if you prefer- I often train fasted when I’m doing HIIT in the morning. Again, this is very personal.”
“You should eat an hour before training. If you are new to training or not been training for a while, having food-fuel will help get you through your session and should stop you from feeling sick.
The reason behind this is our body uses oxygen to digest the food we have eaten and training increases the body’s need for oxygen.
The last thing you need when you are doing a taxing HIIT workout is battling for oxygen on both fronts.”
WHAT IS GOOD TO EAT BEFORE A WORKOUT THAT REQUIRES ENERGY?
The majority of spin classes claim to burn anywhere from 400 to 600 calories in a 45-minute class. The harder you work – and the higher that resistance – the more fat you’ll burn. So, it goes without saying that you need some energy to in the bank in order to push yourself. But what is good to eat before a workout where energy is essential? James Pisano at Sweat by BXR (formerly of spin studio Core Collective) advises:
- A baked sweet potato with an avocado salad of tomatoes, fresh spinach, pine nuts and olive oil
- A fruit smoothie to energise you for a spin class if you’re short of time
- A cold press juice. I have a spinach, cucumber, apple, celery, coconut water and spirulina juice every day before my last spin class of the day. It’s my favourite.
“Remember when worrying about what is good to eat before a workout that when you eat is also crucial. Always eat an hour before, if not more.”
WHAT IS GOOD TO EAT BEFORE A WORKOUT TO BUILD MUSCLE?
Strength training has been proven to both burn fat and build muscle, so you’ll definitely need sustenance to power through a resistance workout.
King of the resistance band Lee Mullins knows what is good to eat before a workout that involves wrapping your legs in rubber. If you’ve not yet upped your exercise game with a band you won’t know just how painful they can be. For optimal pre-workout gains, he suggests:
- Bulletproof coffee
- Plant milks
- Mixed nuts
- Dark, organic chocolate
- Chicken and guacamole.
“I’m a big fan of pre-workout snacks being predominantly made up of healthy fats and protein. This combination helps raise the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and dopamine, which increase focus, drive and motivation.”
“As a general rule, I would always have a pre-workout snack 60 minutes before the workout. Some people may need to consume their pre-workout snack slightly earlier- around 90 minutes before working out.
This combination applies if you choose to train in the morning or the evening and the optimum time to consume a pre-workout snack is based on a number of factors- how much you’re eating, whether it’s a liquid-based snack or solid food and how good your digestive system is.”
WHAT IS GOOD TO EAT BEFORE A WORKOUT TO LOSE WEIGHT?
If you’re looking to lose a few pounds, then upping your protein intake and body weight workouts has been labelled the ‘holy grail’ of lifestyle techniques. Make a date with your mountain climbers and burpees and take note from James Duigan, founder of Bodyism, who recommends:
- Salmon and avocado combo
- Egg for protein
- A handful of almonds—especially if you’re planning to exercise after work before heading home for dinner.
“My recommendation is also all about protein and healthy fat. This won’t raise your insulin levels, a process which would prevent muscle protein being used as energy.”
“Generally speaking, for an afternoon or evening workout, I’d recommend eating a healthy, lean meal 2 to 3 hours beforehand and maybe having a small snack 30-60 minutes before.”
If we’ve inspired you, why not try your hand at these Healthy Dinner Ideas or Easy Vegan Recipes?