One of the most frequently asked nutrition and fitness questions I get asked is, “What should I eat before I workout to get the best results?” And because I don’t believe in a one size fits all approach to nutrition or fitness, my answer is that it depends!
I get it! You work hard and fueling your body the right way should be a priority in order to maximize the hard fitness work that you’re doing to get the best results. So, let’s break this down into three easy steps…
1. WHEN TO EAT: To get the ultimate results from your workouts, and to stop having to ask yourself, “should I eat before I workout,” you need to be intentional about your nutrition. The truth is that some of you will need to eat prior to a workout. And others of you will greatly benefit, and just feel better overall, from working out in a fasted state.
I definitely feel that this is just another place that needs an incredible amount of customization. Some days you might want to workout “fueled” so this might mean eating 2-3 hours before your workout. But that being said … if you get up early in the morning to workout, you probably don’t have that long of a window. So if fueling first is your goal, if at all possible, eat a small Macro balanced snack 45-60 minutes before your workout.
Then there are others of you who might benefit from working out “fasted.” Levels of this will vary, though to keep it simple, this will range from water and electrolytes to perhaps some green tea or black coffee.
Side bar… HERE ARE A FEW OTHER TIPS AS WELL…
Overall… TIP 1: The shorter the window of time before your workout, the smaller your meal should be to avoid upsetting your stomach.
TIP 2: Liquid foods (like a shake or smoothie) also have a faster transit time through your stomach, so if you need more than water, tea or coffee, and less than a meal, this can be a good choice.
Bonus FAQ: Do fasted workouts really work?
It depends. I know it seems like I say that a lot, though it really does! Some studies show you can burn more fat if you work out on an empty stomach, but studies into whether that translates into actual weight loss show mixed results.
So what’s the key? Either way, CONSISTENCY.
TIP 3: If your goal is to 1) add muscle or 2) train for peak Equestrian performance … and you do prefer a fasted workout, be sure to eat right after and do not try to force yourself to extend your fast at that point – if you’re hungry.
Ok… back to the point.
2. WHAT TO EAT: Generally speaking, a balanced Macro meal or snack prioritizing protein, and having the right amount of carbs and fat with protein, that meet your metabolic needs, is key. If you’re more meat based, or on a Carnivore Diet approach, then you can just go with the protein and fat! If you’re eating a fattier cut of meat, then you may not even need to add more fat. Again, depends on individual goals!
Protein – Studies show that eating protein before a workout can boost your:
- Muscle growth
- Recovery, and
Carbs – If you’re not Keto or Carnivore, your muscles run on glycogen, which is the way your body stores and processes the glucose it gets from carbs, as long as Insulin Resistance is not a huge underlying factor.
If you are not Keto, when you do shorter or more intense workouts, the glycogen stored in your body is usually enough to fuel your workouts. If you are Keto (or Carnivore), and you’re already fat adapted, then your body is running on fat for fuel.
But if you’re doing long or low-moderate intensity workouts, your stored glycogen can run out.
Fat – There aren’t a lot of studies on the immediate impact of eating fat before your workout. That being said, fat is your body’s preferred source of fuel for long and/ or low to moderate-intensity exercise. FAT IS FUEL!
Too much fat right before you exercise can give some people a stomach ache since it takes longer to digest.
Do what’s right for your body and your metabolism! With nutrition, there is never just one right answer
Here are a few Macro balanced pre-workout meal/ snack ideas for you:
- ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt + ½ green tipped balana
- 1 hard-boiled egg + ½ green apple with 1 tbsp. almond butter
- Protein shake with almond milk, ½ cup berries, and 1 tbsp. nut butter
- Steak, chicken or seafood. Added fat if needed!
- Matcha Tea or Black Coffee
- Fatty Coffee with an added protein source as well!
3. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY: The most important thing is that you find a formula that works for YOU.
This will depend on:
- Your goals (physical performance vs. fat loss).
- When you work out (morning vs. evening), and
- Any underlying hormone or gut imbalances you might have.
I know that was A LOT… and I hope this helps! If you need protein powder recommendations, CLICK HERE to check out my favorite high quality grassfed beef protein. Feel free to use my discount code: XCAMO3RKHC to save on your order!
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