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Think Ahead: Pre-Workout Nutriton

By Amanda Turner MS, RD, CSSD | September 4, 2015

Do you ever wonder what the optimum meal or snack is to have prior to an event? What about for training? Eating before a training workout or big event can help to improve your performance. The following tips will help you be adequately prepared:

1. Consider Timing

Eating before an event or hard training can be tricky. If you’re going to be doing high intensity or long endurance activities, try eating at least two hours before you start your workout. This allows plenty of time for digestion and will minimize your risk of GI distress. If your activity is more moderate or light in intensity, you may be able to eat closer to the activity without any concern.

*As a general rule of thumb, the closer you get to your activity’s start time, the less you should be eating for optimal digestion pre-activity.

2. Meal/Snack Composition

A balanced meal with carbohydrates, protein, and a small amount of fat is typically your best choice. Fat takes longer to digest, so it is good to keep it small prior to a long or intense activity bout (i.e. avoid that pizza!). Try the following snacks/meals before activity:

• Oatmeal with fruit, low fat milk, and a small amount of peanut butter
• String cheese and banana
• Sirloin and baked potato (light with the butter/sour cream)
• Crackers and yogurt based dip

3. Type of Food or Beverage

Choose either liquid or solid foods based on your preference and past digestive history. If you have trouble with stomach cramping or nausea during workouts, liquid may be the best option (also consider eating earlier to leave more time for digestion pre-workout). In general, lower fiber options are best so you don’t have more bulk in the stomach and intestines. Avoid beans, cruciferous veggies, most whole grains, and any other foods that have caused gas/cramping in your past experience.