Posted on August 10, 2020 by Jenny Cromack

Now that gyms are back up and running and we are slowly finding our
way with the new processes implemented to keep us safe whilst we train, here is a blog about what to consume BEFORE a workout to ensure you are achieving your maximal potential during your workouts. It’s great easing back into the gym, taking it steady and knowing not to push our limits after so long away, but like anything we should consider fueling appropriately before exercise and when it’s necessary

Many people have a good understanding of what they need to eat after a workout, but as personal trainers we often are asked ‘what should I eat before a workout’. So let’s look at your pre-workout nutrition.

As we know from previous blogs, food provides us with energy for everyday activities as well as exercise so using that to our advantage can really improve our overall exercise performance. It can help to keep focus as well as fuel you for the full length of time you are exercising, preventing those horrible crashes we sometimes get!

What Should I Eat Before A Workout?

As it is the main source of energy, carbohydrates are a great food source to consume before a workout and are a must! However, we also recommend that you are also consuming a sufficient amount of carbohydrates throughout the day too!

Depending on your training intensities (and how manual your job is) the amount of carbs you consume can vary but the figures below are a guided amount:

· Light exercise– 3-5g/ kg body weight per day
· Moderate exercise (around 1 hr per day) – 5-7g/ kg body weight per day
· High exercise (1-3 hrs per day high intensity) – 6-10g/ kg body weight per day
· Very high exercise (moderate to high intensity for 4-5 hr / day) – 8 -12g/ kg body weight per day

As well as carbohydrates, protein is a great macronutrient to consume prior to exercise. When consuming enough, protein increases muscle protein synthesis, it has also shown to increase muscle performance and improve muscle recovery. If your goal is to build muscle, the body requires a positive protein balance therefore its highly recommended to consume protein every 3-4 hours per day of a minimum of around 20g per meal. Here is a guide on how much protein to consume daily depending on your goal:

· General population – 0.8g/ kg body weight per day
· Endurance training athletes – 1.2g-1.4g / kg body weight per day
· Muscle building – 1.6 – 2.4g / kg body weight per day

Finally, for that little boost, caffeine. Although I personally wouldn’t recommend it every time you work out, and I am a big believer in limiting your caffeine intake, caffeine really is a great and hugely researched stimulant which is massively under rated. Caffeine can show it’s affects in less than one hour and has been proven to improve performance and focus.

If you exercise late at night, I wouldn’t recommend consuming caffeine pre-workout as it will affect your sleep. If you already consume a lot of coffee or tea, again, I wouldn’t recommend taking any more. You can get caffeine from tea, coffee, some foods and some drinks. It is extremely important to read the label and check how many mg is in the food and drinks you consuime. NHS state the ‘safe amount’ is up to 400mg per day, which is extremely high, however some energy drinks can contain half that amount in one can! It is also a stimulant which we can, and do, become immune to pretty fast, so it’s always good to only use it when absolutely necessary.

In summary, getting adequate amounts of protein and carbs pre-workout will help to improve your training performance and on the days you may need a little boost then consider having some caffeine too…..just make sure this isn’t every time you train.