top of page

What to Eat Before, During and After a Workout : Nutrient Timing Explained

Do you ever feel tired and sluggish going into a workout? Maybe you feel too full or stuffed while training and it affects your performance? Or maybe you are just looking to optimize your energy and results in the gym. Well, this post will fix all those things.

Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand, and once you figure out how to properly fuel your body for your activity, you can only go up from here. The timing of when you eat and what you eat before and after a workout has more of an effect on your body than you may think. Eating the optimal nutrients before and after exercise help your body perform better, recover faster, and minimize muscle damage after exercise. This is known as “peri-workout” or nutrient timing - and that’s what this post is all about!

I know everyone has their preference of times they train, what they like to eat, and their own busy schedules during the day that affect when they eat and when they train. I structured this post to include the science behind each meal surrounding a workout, examples of some meals that provide the nutrients your body needs at that time, and ways to incorporate nutrient timing in your own day to day.

This post contains information on nutrients before , during, and after a workout. There’s options for those who train fasted or in the early morning as well. So let’s get into it!

What is a Pre- Workout Meal?

The pre-workout meal has the most impact on your workouts, it will determine how effective your workouts are. Your workouts will be what creates muscle growth, so prioritizing what you eat around that time frame will certainly help drive growth and progress.

Before working out or anytime of physical event, your body needs to have a good source of glycogen, which is the short-term storage form of carbohydrate. Glycogen supplies immediate energy to the body which is needed before a workout.

Your pre- workout meal itself, should consist of a large amount of carbohydrates and a smaller amount of protein. The carbohydrates will help immediately fuel the body. The moderate protein source helps repair and grow muscle tissues. Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and does not supply an immediate source of carbohydrates, which is why its taken in a smaller serving before your workouts.

Two Main Reasons to Eat a Pre-Workout Meal:

1. It fuels your workout (your carb source)

2. It creates an anabolic environment (your protein source)

What About Fats and Fiber?

The body takes a long time to digest fats and fiber. Taking these before a workout will slow down digestion in your entire body. It is recommended that fat and fiber intake prior to a workout should be smaller or minimal as the body will be trying to digest it as you workout and it may lead to some tummy issues during training basically (Smith & Collene 2015).

Timing Fats and Fiber Before a Workout

Now that we know fats and fiber slow down