Great Pre-Workout Meals



Although many have written off pasta due to the anti-carb trend, it remains a great source of complex carbs, which help increase stored energy (glycogen) in the muscles. When your glycogen stores are depleted, your body starts relying on anaerobic metabolism for energy, which makes your workout much more difficult. Stick to whole-wheat pasta and keep your portions small or allow two to three hours for digestion before your workout.


The monounsaturated fats found in almonds and other nuts provide energy-boosting essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and omega-6s. The fats you should be avoiding before exercising are saturated ones like cheese and butter, which will make you tired and lethargic.


Lentils are a great source of carbs, protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium, and copper. They will provide you with a great pre-workout energy boost and they’re also low in fat and calories, so they make for a great all-around snack.


The magnesium in yogurt can give you an energy kick for your workout as it activates enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of protein and carbs. It also provides the explosive source of energy used for lifting weights. Therefore, yogurt is a good choice before both cardio and weightlifting sessions.


Since oats are full of fiber, they are low on the glycemic index. Therefore, the carbs are released into your bloodstream gradually, keeping your energy levels constant during your workout. They also contain B vitamins, which are energizing, stress-lowering, and help to convert carbs into energy.

Carbohydrate Energy Gels

These convenient little gel packets provide a dose of concentrated carbs, roughly equivalent to half a bagel. As they don’t contain any protein, fat or fiber, energy gels are absorbed into your bloodstream faster and are much easier to digest than solid food. They are ideal for runners, and any other athletes that require quick bursts of energy to make it through high-intensity workouts.

Energy Bars

There are many types of energy bars out there. Some contain mostly protein, whereas others are composed largely of carbohydrates. In order to boost your energy before a workout, choose a bar that leans more toward carbs. Although bars may be a little more difficult to digest than gels, they have the added advantage of being packed with a balance of essential nutrients.

Bananas and other fruits

Bananas are a very digestible form of carbohydrate. Furthermore, bananas are packed with potassium, which aids in maintaining proper nerve and muscle function. Since your body doesn’t store this nutrient for long periods, an intense workout is enough to make your potassium level drop. Apples, peaches, pineapples, and grapes are also good choices for an energizing snack.


Pre-exercise meals should be mainly composed of “slow-burning” complex carbs, such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, rice, pasta, and cereals. Given that they are your body’s main source of energy, 65% to 70% of the total calories of your pre-workout meal should come from carbs. Complex carbs take longer to convert to glucose, which will keep your blood sugar level consistent and prevent you from having an energy crash in the middle of your workout.

In addition, 15% of the total calories of your meal should come from protein. Because fat takes longer to digest, and therefore uses more energy than protein and carbs, it should be kept to a minimum immediately before a workout.

Avoid simple sugars, such as candy, in the hour before your workout. They can send your blood sugar level shooting down, leading to a severe drop in energy.

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Workout Nutrition

Natural Ripped

If you exercise at night, high GI carbohydrate-rich foods like rice, a bagel or potato are ideal as they are quickly digested and can also help promote sleep.

For good post-exercise dinners, try: Rice (try quick cooking rice pouches – pre-cooked rice that needs just 90 seconds in the microwave to heat) with simple stir-fried chicken breast and some vegies, or Microwave a potato in it’s jacket and add some tuna, corn and chopped red capsicum, or A bowl of rice bubbles with milk and a few berries will even do the trick!

If you work out during the day, for example in your lunch break, the same carb/protein principles apply, but at this time of day, try low GI, higher fibre carbohydrate-rich foods to give you longer lasting energy throughout the afternoon, like:

I have this as my post meal:

Wholegrain sandwich or wrap with tuna, chicken or egg plus salad (dark green leaves like rocket or cos lettuce with beetroot and grated carrot) plus fruit – good choices include oranges, mango, apples, berries Sushi rolls plus a side salad Low GI rice or pasta salad (avoid creamy sauces) containing chicken, legumes, fish and roasted vegetable.

If it’s between meal times and you just need a replenishing snack, try:

I have this as my pre workout meal:

Dried fruits with nuts (carbs plus protein plus healthy fats for filling power) or a dried fruit and nut bar A breakfast bar or muesli bar with a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts Flavored low fat milk or a fruit smoothie – these provide extra fluid as well as carbohydrate and protein A tub of yogurt with chopped fruit or some berries

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Pre Workout Fuel


Here are some good slow digesting (low glycemic index) pre workout foods:

1. Apples
2. Oranges
3. Grapes
4. Grapefruit
5. 1/2 cup of pasta
6. A few slices of whole grain bread
7. Oats
8. Yogurt
9. Nuts
10. 1/2 cup of brown rice

Let’s be realistic though, there are times when you don’t have time to eat 2 to 3 hours before working out. In this case, you should turn to faster digesting foods which will give you a quick short burst of energy. They should be eaten 20 to 60 minutes before your workout.

Here are some good fast digesting (high glycemic index) pre workout foods:

1. Bananas
2. Raisins
3. Energy Bars

Here are some of the factors affecting how foods are rated:

* How much fiber is in a food.
Foods with higher fiber content take longer to digest.

* Sugar content.
Sugar is quickly digested and released into the blood stream.

* Fructose (fruit sugar).
Fructose is a simple sugar, but takes longer to digest because it must go to the liver first to be
converted into glucose and then sent back to your bloodstream where your body can use it for energy.

* Raw or cooked.
Cooking makes a food more digestible. Raw foods take longer to digest.

* Protein content.
Approx. 65 percent of protein becomes glucose, but it takes 6-8 hours to do so. Foods with protein take
longer to digest.

* Fat.
Fat takes longer to digest, and therefore has a stabilizing affect on blood sugar.

* Processing.
Processed foods tend to have fiber removed, and therefore are quickly digested.

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