eating before workout

Eating Before Workout – What Should You Eat?

Author: Anne Jonson

Diet & Nutrition Expert

Eating before workout or should you prefer afterwards? Or both? We clarify and tell you why you should eat before exercise and what is best to eat.

As a recreational athlete, the answer to the question of whether you should eat before exercising is (almost) always yes. Eating before exercising is an absolute must, especially if you want to lose weight or gain muscle.

Training on an empty stomach can only be useful for ambitious marathon or basic endurance training. In this article, we’ll tell you what to eat before which sport.

Eating before workout - the basics

As individual as your body, goals and sport-specific aspects are, these 5 basics apply to everyone.

Drink enough

Even more important than eating before exercising is that you drink enough. Not 5 minutes before the workout, but throughout the day. Do you work out in the morning? Then it is important to drink enough the day before, especially in the evening.

Define your goal

When planning your meal before exercising, think about what your goal is. Do you want to lose weight, build muscle or improve your basic endurance? Tailor your meal accordingly.

Eat something

Eating before exercise generally makes sense. No matter what goal you pursue. Exercising on an empty stomach can be useful as part of endurance training. But whether you want to lose weight or build muscle: Eating before exercise will help you achieve your goals.

Find the right amount

When eating before exercising, it is never important to eat too much. The trick is to eat enough. You have to find out for yourself how much that is with you. For most athletes, a small bar is best.

Tip: try paleo bars. They provide you with proteins and carbs with which you can start your workout perfectly. And best of all: they are simply delicious.

Trust in carbs

Your pre-workout snack should contain carbohydrates. Ideally from fruit or dried fruit. A few carbohydrates are particularly important before high-intensity workouts such as HIIT training. But a liter of cola and sweet snacks is not. They give a lot of energy quickly, but just fizzle out again. The result: your performance drops.

Only before short, very intense loads or during interval training does it make sense to consume glucose and dextrose in isolation so that you can really give your all.

What should you eat before working out?

Eating before exercise generally makes sense because you simply perform better. After a good snack, your workout is more intense than it otherwise would be. Your metabolism has everything it needs and is running at full speed. You go to your limits and can bring real performance. In short: your workout is more effective, you make better progress and you reach your goals faster.

The ideal meal before exercise is easy to digest and gives you energy. If you train in the evening, this applies at least to your lunch and the snack immediately before the workout.
That said, the perfect pre-workout meal is …

  • low in fiber.
  • low fat.
  • contains protein.
  • contains carbohydrates.
  • tailored to your goal.

Eating before workout: lose weight

Workout in the morning without breakfast or on the treadmill? Especially when it comes to losing weight, the idea persists that training on an empty stomach is particularly effective. But it is not. What is true is that when you exercise on an empty stomach, your body gains energy from fat and learns to burn fat particularly efficiently. But: only if you train very slowly and moderately. And in doing so you burn significantly fewer calories than with a short, intense workout. The afterburn effect is also less.

Therefore: Eat before exercise and really go to your limits during training to burn calories and at the same time tone and define your muscles. The key to a feel-good body? The combination of sport and a balanced diet that is perfectly tailored to your goal.

Eating before workout: strength training

Especially when building muscle you need to eat before exercise. Carbs and protein are on the agenda. Carbs so that you can give your all in training. And to protect your muscles. Because as long as carbohydrates are available as an energy source, your muscles use them. If there are no more carbohydrates, energy is obtained from protein, among other things. If you want to build muscle, avoid that.


The second component of your meal before exercise: proteins. Proteins are the basic building block of your muscles. If you eat protein before your workout, you will have amino acids available during your workout that your body can use immediately to build muscle. Whey protein is ideal because it is easier to digest than casein. Your favorite protein shake after your workout is still a must.

By the way: BCAAs before training can also help you achieve your goals. BCAA capsules or drinks provide you with BCAAs that are freely available. This means that if your body runs out of carbohydrates during the training session, it doesn’t have to get protein from muscle. Instead, it uses the BCAAs in the capsules first.

Eating before workout: running

What is best to eat before running depends on the goal of your training session. If you train for the marathon and want to train in the basic endurance area – which means long and slow – it can make sense to run on an empty stomach. The ulterior motive: Even in the marathon, there may come a point when your body has to do without carbohydrates for a short time. Mentally and physically, it can be beneficial to know this situation from training. However, it is best, especially in competitions, if you take precaution and always have an energy gel or endurance drink with you.

Are you jogging to lose weight or to improve your endurance in addition to strength training? Then the same applies here as for your food before exercise. Eat carbohydrates and some protein. To protect your muscles while jogging, BCCAs are our favorite here too.

How long you should wait to exercise after eating?

You have to find out for yourself how long you should wait to exercise after eating. Every body is different in this regard. As a guideline after a low-fat and low-fiber meal, a 2-3 hour break between eating and exercising works quite well for most athletes. For some, an hour is enough, others need four hours. Try out what you can handle and how and develop a feeling for the needs of your body.

The perfect time for the last snack before exercise is around 15-30 minutes before the start of training. If you eat too early, the main energy boost will be over before the workout has started. Choose something that is easy on your stomach.

You are now wondering whether you should eat before or after exercising? Proteins before or after exercise? Eating after exercise is just as important as it is before. In our article you will find out all the important information about eating after training.

Conclusion: Eating before workout

  • Eating before exercise is always a good idea.
  • Your pre workout meal should be easy to digest.
  • You should wait for 2-3 hours after eating before exercising.
  • Your meal should be tailored to your goal.
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