Pre-Workout Nutrition

I get asked two questions regarding pre-workout nutrition all the time.  Before I answer them here I just want to remind you all that I am not a nutritionist so I can’t tell you exactly what to eat, but I can give you some guidelines.

Question #1: Should I eat before a workout?  Absolutely, you need to put some gas in the tank before you start the car!  But what if I am trying to lose weight?  Complete calorie restriction is not the answer to weight loss.  For comparison sake take a look at these examples.  You are getting ready for a workout and you decide not to eat before hand, 15minutes into the workout you notice you aren’t performing your best and are getting extremely tired and lightheaded (no fuel to keep you moving and thinking) and after another 15minutes you can barely concentrate on what you are doing let alone keep your body moving so you decide to call it a workout, total calories burned 250.  Now the next time you go for your workout you have a snack that has 150 calories and after 15minutes you are feeling energized and are performing at the best of your ability, another 15minutes goes by and you are still feeling strong, and after 30minutes more you are done and you have given it your all.  You burned a total of 600 calories during your workout, but we have to account for that 150 calorie snack so your net loss is actually 450 calories.  Even with a little snack you will see better results in your workout and a bigger calorie expenditure amongst other benefits.

Question #2: What should I eat before a workout? Simply put anything that doesn’t upset your stomach so that your workout doesn’t get interrupted.  Ideally you would want to eat a good carbohydrate (fruit and/or vegetable), a lean source of protein, and a good source of fat (nuts/seeds/olives).  If you are planning on working out for longer than an hour it might also be a good idea to consume a whole grain product.  If you have an hour before your workout and you are feeling hungry you might want to eat a light snack, and if you have a few hours before your workout you can enjoy a meal.  As for what specifically to eat, the options are endless… experiment with a few things and see what gives you the best performance during your workout.  Personally I can’t stand to work out or play sports on an empty stomach, even if I am feeling a bit hungry during a game I will have a sip of a sport drink or even a piece of fruit or a bar between periods.

The take home point here is find a snack/meal that works for you and don’t start a workout without having first put some fuel in the tank.  You can find many more helpful fat loss tips in Andrew Burchell’s free ebook ’The 12 Keys to Fat Loss’ (

Josh Neumann, BHK, PTS, TSCC-1

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