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What to Eat Before a Workout

calorie intake diet energy food macros meal timing muscle building strength training workout workouts Mar 11, 2022

At KJO Coaching, we often have clients ask what they should eat before their workouts. 

We actually get that question quite frequently on social media too, so I want to address it here for you.

It’s Coach Brooke here! As a registered dietitian, this is probably the number one question I get. But, I don’t have a single answer to give you. 

My answer is always different depending on the client.


Why Does Pre-Workout Nutrition Vary from Person to Person?


I know it would make things so much easier if I could give you a straight answer, but here’s the reality, your pre-workout nutrition is going to vary based on you as an individual. 

Some of the considerations I keep in mind when answering this question are:

  • Your goals
  • Your timing
  • Your training style
  • Your digestion

So you see, there are a lot of factors that can play a role in what kind of pre-workout meal is best for you.


A Standard Meal Before You Workout


For individuals who are working out for fun or to get into or stay in shape, a standard meal will do just fine! 

Consuming a balanced meal a few hours before training should cover your workout from start to finish without any lack of energy.



A standard meal should include all three macronutrients as well as some fiber. 

The above chart is an approximate example of what you want your nutrition to look like for the meal you eat before your workout.


The Pre-Workout Meal


Focused pre-workout meals become more important for individuals who are looking to improve their performance or beat their personal best. They are also important for those that are training HARD.

If you find yourself lacking energy or progress in the gym, it may be time to take a more scientific approach to your pre-workout nutrition!

Carbs for Energy

When building your pre-workout meal, you need to make sure you consume carbs. Carbs are your primary energy source, especially for those working towards higher intensity or endurance goals. 

Easy-to-digest carbs are best for pre-workout meals! Some great options are:

  • Bread 
  • Bananas
  • White rice
  • Eggs
  • Apple sauce

Protein to Build Muscle

You also need to make sure you’re getting enough protein before working out.
Consuming protein throughout the day helps your body heal the small tears created when working out and ultimately functions as the building blocks of new muscle!

Focus on lean protein sources to see improvement in your performance. Some good sources include:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey 
  • Tofu

Go Easy with Fat


Fats are slower to digest, and consuming large amounts before workouts can have you feeling bogged down. Try to avoid large amounts of fat prior to your workout.

You don’t have to avoid fats altogether. Just be mindful of the amount and type you’re eating. Some of our favorite fat sources are:

  • Peanut butter
  • Avocado 
  • Nuts
  • Seeds 

These recommendations are for meals consumed within 90 minutes of a workout for optimal performance.

Fiber, complex carbs, and high-fat foods should be left until after your workout to allow for proper digestion time.


Work With a Registered Dietitian


At KJO Coaching, we know it can be challenging to navigate nutrition on your own, especially if you’re working towards specific health or fitness goals. That’s why we have a registered dietitian on our team!

If you’re struggling to reach your wellness goals and want to work with a professional who knows what’s up when it comes to fitness and nutrition, you need to apply to work with us!

You’ll learn how to navigate your nutrition, fitness, and wellness until you’re confident you can do this independently. We’re here to support you through 1:1 coaching and a client resource portal that’s tailored to YOUR needs!

If you’re ready, CLICK HERE!


Connect with us!

Email: [email protected]

IG: @coachbrooke.rdn @kjocoaching

Hi, I'm Kasey!

I coach, mentor, write, and teach with one main focus: Build strong bodies and healthy lifestyles, starting with your mindset.


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