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Pre Workout Food

What to eat before exercising?

If you have any doubts about it, this text is for you!

A balanced diet is essential for those who train to intend to lose fat mass, gain muscle mass, or even for physical and mental well-being. In this article, you will learn how to maximize the results of your physical activities through it.

Whatever your goal, it is necessary to have a diet adapted to your individual needs throughout the day and not just during training.

How should I structure my pre workout diet?

Adequate intake of low glycaemic index carbohydrates is especially important. These will prevent your insulin from being released in large amounts, and there is a consequent drop in blood glucose levels, thus preventing hypoglycaemia during your training!

The ideal is to have a complete meal 3-4 hours before your workout. However, if you do not have enough time, and you only have 1-2 hours, your meal must be lighter but equally satisfying to not compromise your digestion, and at the same time, providing enough energy to carry out your physical exercise effectively without gastric discomfort.

Meal ideas for 3-4h before your workout

A complete meal, such as a lunch/dinner that includes soup and a dish consisting of meat/fish/eggs, rice/pasta (ideally in its wholegrain versions), or sweet potatoes and vegetables. You can also opt for a dark bread sandwich (cereal/whole grain/rye) stuffed with grilled chicken/turkey breast or tuna with salad.

Example of meals you can have 3-4h before training:

  • Vegetable soup
  • Dishes: Lean meat (free of visible skin or fat) / Fish (grilled or roasted without oil) accompanied by sweet potatoes or brown rice and salad or assorted vegetables to taste


  • 1 baguette of wholegrain bread/cereal stuffed with 1 can of natural tuna + 1 boiled egg + salad to taste.

Pre workout snack ideas (approximately 2h before your workout):

A breakfast/snack that includes a carbohydrate source such as low-refined flour bread (rye bread/cereals/whole grain) or whole grains (oats, rye/brown rice) and a protein source such as egg, cheese, or even lean meats (such as chicken or turkey), or fish (such as canned tuna). The inclusion of fruit, and/or oleaginous fruits may be an option you can discuss with your nutritionist.

Example of meals you can have 2h before your workout:

  • Oat and banana pancakes
  • Porridge with fruit
  • 1 wholegrain bread/cereal stuffed with cheese and poultry ham + 1 fruit
  • Rice/corn tortillas with boiled egg + 1 fruit

If you do not have the opportunity to eat until 1 hour before exercise, the ideal would be to include foods with a moderate glycaemic index in your diet, promoting the rapid entry of energy into your muscles. So, in this option, you can include 1 one fruit or 1 cereal bar, low in refined sugars.

During physical exercise, it is natural to lose water and mineral salts through sweating. When this occurs in high amounts, it can potentiate the appearance of symptoms such as muscle weakness, headache, or dizziness, being crucial to hydrate yourself in the moments that involve the practice of physical activities.

For more than 1 hour of high-intensity training, it may be helpful to introduce a quick-absorbing snack, such as energy gels, marmalade, ripe banana.

Are the food options in the pre-workout meal different if you want to lose weight or increase muscle mass?

The answer is no! What changes is the portion of food.

Carbohydrate and protein requirements are equally important no matter what your training objective is. It is important to know the individual energy needs so that the nutritionist can prescribe the recommended dose for each food group in a personalized way.


The information included in this article concerns the authors opinion only.

About Silvia Coelho

Silvia Coelho
Licenciada em Dietética e Nutrição com especialização em Nutrição Desportiva, exerce a sua atividade laboral essencialmente em ginásios e centros de treino personalizado. Tem larga experiência no acompanhamento de atletas de elite e recreativos de todas as faixas etárias. Nome profissional e o n° da cédula: Sílvia Costa Coelho 3756N

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