I’ve bought in to MANY diet fads in my time.
🙋♂️ I did a keto diet for a long time (i even used to pee on a stick to see if I was in ketosis).
🙋♂️ I tried Herbalife for a while (my Mum even sold the stuff)
🙋♂️ I did this thing called the ‘Veolicty Diet’ where I survived on only protein shakes for a couple of weeks.
One of the least productive things I used to do was invest excessive amounts time and energy into my pre workout routine…to the point that if I missed a component I wouldn’t go to the gym.
2 hours before training I’d have a carb heavy meal…if for whatever reason I couldn’t eat any carbs with this meal I wouldn’t bother going to the gym because I didn’t think I’d have the energy.
60 minutes before training I’d have 200-400mg of caffeine…this was absolutely ESSENTIAL. No caffeine=no gym. Because if you don’t have the caffeine jitters when you walk in the gym there’s no way you can lift any weight…right?
And finally, 30 minutes before the gym I’d have a pre workout shake which consisted of 20-30g of whey mixed with 60-70g of waxy maize starch which is a powdered carbohydrate and looks/tastes/feels exactly like plain flour.
These days I have no pre workout routine.
Some days I train fasted, some days I train fed. Some days I just have a small protein based snack, some days I have a heavy carb meal.
And if I can get a coffee in beforehand it’s a bonus.
Basically, my pre workout nutrition doesn’t really matter to me these days and I train just as hard and just as effectively. When I was entrenched in my OCD routine it was very much a mental thing…I convinced myself that it really mattered.
So, back to the initial question…what should you eat before a workout?
As with almost everything related to fitness and nutrition, it depends on the individual.
Don’t worry, I won’t just leave you with that ambivalent ending…here are some pointers:
Lifting weights on an empty stomach is fine
If you train early in the morning don’t feel like you have to get up extra early to cram a meal in (another thing I used to do…alarm at 4.30am to make sure I get a meal in before a session). Have a coffee 30 minutes before you train and you’ll be good to go.
Avoid heavy meals within an hour of training
It takes at least an hour for your stomach to clear itself of your food, so probably not a good idea to have a big pasta meal an hour before you hit the gym.
If you’ve had a long day, have some carbs
If you’re hitting the gym after a long day at work and haven’t eaten since lunch time, grab a small snack 45-60 minutes before training for a bit of an energy boost. A piece of fruit and a hit of protein would fit the bill…a banana and a greek yoghurt for example, or some berries and a protein bar.
Go with how you feel
Everyone is different.
If you feel like you’re going to vomit when you eat within an hour of activity, it’s not necessary.
Similarly, if you feel shaky and weak if you go to the gym without eating, make sure you have a snack before you train.
There are no hard and fast rules, the only things to keep in mind are a) you’re within your calorie goal and b) you can get through your workouts effectively.
If you need a bit more guidance with your nutrition, the New Year Challenge is open for registration.