The McGuigan Blog

What to Eat Before A Workout


A good training session or workout is going to be dependant on how you fuel yourself beforehand and there are a few variables to consider which are:

  • How close you eat before the session
  • How long the session is going to be
  • What your training goals are

This really doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive but its worth elaborating on these to give you a better understanding.

How close you eat before the session:- This is pretty self explanatory but generally speaking the closer you eat before a session (1 hour or less) the smaller and easier to digest it should be. Think more of a “snack” type meal such as a small piece of fruit and/or a small handful of nuts. The fruit will digest quickly and the nuts will give some healthy fats to help stabilise blood sugar. If your day means you’ll have up to 2 hours between eating and training then of course a regular meal can be consumed so you don’t crash during your session. Here you can focus on foods such as complex carbohydrates like sweet potato, oats, brown rice etc, and a protein source such as chicken, eggs, fish or turkey to both fill you up and give you a more sustained energy release.

How long the session is going to be:- Generally speaking if your session is going to be long (over 1 hour) and/or involves a lot of endurance work such as sports training, then focus your meal more on good quality complex carbohydrates. For example, a bowl of porridge oats with berries and a handful of nuts. If the session is going to be shorter (1 hour or less) or perhaps lower intensity then you might need to downsize the portion size or lower carbohydrate content to reflect this. For example a small pot of Greek yoghurt with berries would suffice.

What your training goals are:- If you’re looking to lose some weight you might have different requirements than someone who wants to gain muscle or who participates in lots of sport. If you’re overweight then a lighter meal or snack will suffice for example, nuts and berries, or 1-2 small boiled eggs and a small piece of fruit is perfect. If you’re underweight or looking to gain muscle then you can add more protein and carbohydrate to this meal as long as its timed optimally and you’re not eating a huge meal close to training.

So to wrap up you won’t go too far wrong with light and healthy snack based foods including fruit, nuts, yoghurt (ones low in simple sugars), Greek yoghurt and porridge oats. Some protein bars and energy bars are OK too just read the labels as many can be full of simple sugars, and in general just be mindful of how much you eat for your training goals and how close you eat to training.


– Chris