What to eat before EVERY workout!

by OptimumNutrition 3358 views Nutrition

What to eat before EVERY workout!

By understanding the fundamentals of pre-workout nutrition, you can ensure top performance and ideal muscle recovery, so you get the gains you deserve. Let’s explore carbohydrates and protein in more detail.

Pre-workout Carbohydrates:

Why do you need carbohydrates before training?

Carbohydrates serve to give you that all-important energy source to fuel whatever kind of activity you’re doing, such as strength training, endurance, team sports or any other physically demanding activity. 

When you cut your carbohydrates short, you may notice decreased workout performance due to increased fatigue, perception of effort and potential burnout. Depleting your glucose and glycogen stores will give this effect and may even lead to muscle protein breakdown.

Follow this protocol to make sure your muscles are topped up with carbohydrates before every workout:

- 1-4 hours before training, have some complex carbohydrates (such as potatoes) in your meal.
- 30-60 mins before training, you can fuel up with simple carbohydrates (such as a banana) for quick energy

Keep in mind potential gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort when eating too close to training or eating new foods. If you have a competition coming up, it is wise to avoid any new dietary approaches.

Short, high-intensity activities:


Include simple carbohydrates to help fuel you. 

Some examples include:

  • Dairy, such as milk or yoghurt
  • Fruit, such as bananas or apples
  • Refined grains, such as cereal or white rice
  • Sugar, such as honey or table sugar


Think of simple carbohydrates as giving you QUICK energy!

Longer, moderate-intensity activities:

lemon water

Have a mix of simple and complex carbohydrates with protein. 

Some examples of complex carbohydrates include

  • Legumes and starchy vegetables like beans and potatoes
  • Whole grains like oats and pasta
  • Fibre-rich sources like whole fruits or vegetables

Remember, the more active you are, the longer you train and the higher the intensity is, the more carbohydrates you may require. 

Pre-workout Protein:

Why do you need protein before training?


Protein can serve as a source of energy and help to keep your muscles fueled when you are doing a prolonged activity such as endurance training. Note that it is not your body’s number one fuel source, but it can be used in small amounts when you’re exercising for a long time.



Another important function of protein is to help support muscle recovery by ‘priming’ your muscles.

The further away your activity or training is, the more protein you’ll need (combine it with some carbohydrates too).
If, however, you’re about to embark on a sprint in 30 minutes, you’ll be looking to instead fuel with only simple carbohydrates.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re giving your hard-working muscles protein after you train!

What type of protein should you use?

Choose complete high-quality sources such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and soy products. Plant-based sources are generally seen as incomplete and have a lower amount of protein. However, if you combine your plant foods, you can help to ensure it’s a complete protein.

Using a whey protein is an easy way to get your protein needs met. Whey Protein generally peaks in the body in about 1 hr after consumption; it is faster absorbing and digesting than casein, which is perfect for muscle recovery!

Protein Recommendations (Banned Substance Tested)

Gold Standard 100% Whey by Optimum Nutrition

World's #1 Selling Protein

Fast digesting whey proteins

Whey Isolate + Concentrate + Hydrolysed

24g of Protein

More Info

Gold Standard 100% Isolate by Optimum Nutrition

Highest quality Isolate, fasted absorption

Contains Hydrolysed Whey Isolate

25g of Protein

Perfect for those looking for minimal carbs and fats

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Serious Mass by Optimum Nutrition

Multi-source protein for fast and slow absorption

250g Carbohydrates to reload glycogen stores

3g Creatine for performance

Vitamins & Minerals for health

1250kcal per serve - perfect for hard gainers

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Pre-Workout Recommendations (Banned Substance Tested)

Gold Standard Pre Workout by Optimum Nutrition

175mg green sources of Caffeine

1.5g Citrulline Malate + 1.5g Beta Alanine for endurance

Acetyl L-Carnitine & N-Acetyl Tyrosine for focus

B Vitamins for energy and performance

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Gold Standard Pre Advanced by Optimum Nutrition

300mg Caffeine

5g Creatine for strength and performance

6g Citrulline for endurance

1.2g Creatine Nitrate for pump

3.2g Beta Alanine for endurance


More Info

Always speak to your health practitioner before undertaking a new supplement or exercise regime. Views expressed are of Optimum Nutrition.


For 30 years, ON has been the world's most trusted training partner. Thanks for taking us along to every workout since 1986.

Optimum Nutrition is legendary for both quality and innovation. In addition to making Gold Standard 100% Whey, the worlds' best-selling whey protein, ON created the slowly digesting protein category with Gold Standard 100% Casein. ON also created the anytime energy category, which remains dominated by Essential Amino Energy.

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