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What To Eat Before The Gym

The best pre-training fuel for every kind of workout

Deciding what to eat before a workout is always about finding the right balance. You have to provide your body with the energy it needs to perform at your best during the session, but you don’t want to feel heavy or bloated with food while you’re working up a sweat. So for advice on exactly what to eat before all kinds of workouts, we spoke to Ben Samuels, performance nutritionist at Science In Sport.

For each workout Samuels has suggested the nutrients you need and how long before the session you should eat, and suggested supplement and real food options that will do the trick.

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Early Morning Workout

When to eat: 30 minutes beforehand.

What you need: After your overnight fast, both protein and carbohydrate are required. You could also use stimulants to wake yourself up.

Real food option: Banana and 0% fat Greek yogurt with a coffee.

Supplements option: Science in Sport WHEY20 [a protein-packed yogurt], energy bar and a caffeine shot.

Lunchtime Workout

When to eat: 30-60 minutes beforehand.

What you need: A light snack that’s mainly high-GI carbohydrate to deliver energy quickly before the session. You could also use stimulants such as caffeine.

Real food option: Rice cakes with jam and a coffee.

Supplements option: Energy bar and a caffeine shot.

Evening Workout

When to eat: 15-30 minutes beforehand.

What you need: A decent breakfast and lunch during the day will have provided the energy needed, so the focus should be on hydration, plus a small carbohydrate snack if required.

Real food option: Handful of jelly sweets.

Supplements option: Energy gel.
Weights Session

When to eat: One to two hours beforehand to allow for complete digestion.

What you need: Carbohydrate and protein, with hydration being the focus during the workout.

Real food options: Porridge with honey, mixed berries and a handful of nuts if it’s a morning workout, chicken and avocado bagel if it’s later in the day.

HIIT Session

When to eat: 30-60 minutes beforehand.

What you need: Stimulants like caffeine are useful here – they will act on the brain and make exercise feel easier, which will be of benefit for high-intensity intervals. You can also have some carbohydrate beforehand to use as energy during the workout.

Real food option: Banana and a coffee.

Supplements option: Energy bar and a caffeine shot.

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