Pre-Workout Nutrition | The Science + Meal Ideas

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What to eat before a workout is often thought to be something complex that influences your results greatly. But you can be more flexible with your pre-workout nutrition than many people think. In this video, I discuss the key principles of pre-workout nutrition to help you perform better and feel good in your training sessions. I touch on 3 points specifically:

– Meal Size
– Carbohydrate and Protein Timing
– Hydration

First, let’s discuss meal size. If you start training soon after a large meal, it’s common for people to feel some stomach discomfort because you are still digesting the foods you consumed. This is especially true if your pre-workout meal also contains a lot of fat, because dietary fat slows down the rate at which food is emptied from your gut. So the first tip is to have your lightest meal of the day if you choose to eat 1 or 2 hours before working out. To better understand what this light pre workout meal should contain, let’s jump to the next topic of today’s video, protein and carbohydrates.

Research suggests that having roughly 4 protein doses distributed throughout the day helps with creating a more positive protein balance. Particularly consuming protein around your workouts can be of benefit because this is when muscle protein synthesis is at an increased rate. So if maximizing muscle growth is the goal, it is a good idea to include a protein source into your pre-workout meal. Anywhere between 0.3-0.5g of protein per kilogram of your bodyweight is a good aim for this pre-workout meal.

When it comes to carbohydrates, how important carbs before training are depends on whether you have eaten carbs earlier that day. If you have fasted the entire day, there is research showing that consuming a high-carb meal benefits strength training performance. Also, if someone is deep into a fat loss phase and is quite lean, having more carbs around training may help that person feel better during the workout.

By consuming 20 up to 40% of your daily carbohydrate intake around the workout, you prevent going into your workout hungry and may perform better.

Lastly, we have hydration. We all know drinking water is important. But sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in whatever you’re doing and forget to drink enough water throughout the day. This could harm your performance. One research review suggests that athletes should prevent fluid loss of more than 2% of total body weight if they want to maximize performance. Another study looked directly at strength training and found that mild dehydration can also negatively affect strength performance on the back squat. So make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day and particularly before training.

To help you put the tips discussed in this video into practice, I also show you two example pre-workout meals. Protein Oats & Granola with Yogurt.



Protein Distribution Muscle Growth:

Fed or Fasted Training and Performance:

Hydration and Strength Performance:


Music by Ryan Little – Talk To Me –

Workout Meals

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