What you eat is as important for your body and your workout results as the number of squats and pushups you do. Often, people are more focused on the post-workout meal and tend to forget the importance of pre-workout meal and the fact that this one dictates the flow of your workout.

Try seeing it as a fuel for your car—without the right one, you can mess up your car seriously. Though our body is more of a temple than a car, this mental image can help you realize the importance of carefully selected pre-workout meal.

Below, you’ll find useful advice and tips on what to eat before you start exercising.

Timing

Have you ever heard about that saying that you shouldn’t go swimming less than two hours after a meal? Well, it is pretty much the same for a workout, so you need to have your meal in advance.

Luckily, every meal takes different time to digest, and this means you won’t always need to wait exactly two hours. A workout done on a full stomach can be very unpleasant, and it can interfere with your results.

Having lighter snacks and simple, digestible foods up to an hour before a workout is a  solution if you don’t want to mess up your fitness regime. If you do plan on enjoying a full meal, you should plan it at least two hours before the workout.

Supplements

Taking supplements before a workout can affect your results positively. Depending on your goal, you can have caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, arginine or B vitamin complex supplements, which are the most common pre-workout supplements. They can help you improve the strength, endurance and increase the work output.

Taking these supplements approximately half an hour before the workout can significantly improve your results in the gym.

Supplements

Water

The only thing that is more important for a proper workout than the right food is the right amount of water. If your body is not well-hydrated, you are doing more damage than good. Having at least 0.5 liters 10-15 minutes before a workout is ideal if you have hydrated yourself properly during the day. Also, depending on the type of workout you choose for yourself, drinking water in between exercises can be useful and refreshing.

water

Here are some recipes for meals that should be eaten at least 2 or 3 hours before the exercise:

Egg omelet

Eggs are a great pre-workout meal idea since they are very rich in proteins and nutrients, and they go with practically everything. A great breakfast comes with many options to choose from: egg omelet with cheese, chopped onions with paprika, leek and corn seeds, toast and avocado spread. Not more than 2 or 3 eggs will keep you full for a couple of hours and enable you to perform the workout in full strength.

Egg omelet

Fish and rice

This meal involves a very light combination of foods, and quite rich in proteins. Fish is known to be an easy-on-stomach dish, and rice accompanies many meals that include fish. Fresh fish also gets easily fried in a pan, but you can opt for smoked or canned fish anytime. Adding some roasted veggies on a side will make your meal more flavored and balanced.

fish and rice

Turkey sandwich

Cold sliced turkey is a perfect meat choice for your pre-workout meal. Try using a white-grain bread, some mayo and perhaps a boiled egg to have a proper meal full of protein. Try adding some iceberg or cherry tomato slices to make it more refreshing.

If you have less than 2 hours till your workout, try some of these lighter meal options and healthy snacks.

Protein Smoothie

Smoothies are a great way of ingesting a nutrient-packed meal, and their preparation won't take more than a couple of minutes. The great thing about smoothies is that you can mix in just about anything and make it taste delicious. Try sneaking in some spinach leaves, which are great for your blood iron level, and cover their taste with a banana or a spoon of honey.

Smoothies are also a great way to mix in your pre-workout protein by adding the powder into your mixture. Depending on your preferences, choose your type of protein and mix and match with different kinds of fruit for fully satisfying your needs.

protein smoothie

Homemade granola

Granola bars are the perfect fuel for your body for a lot less money, and you can easily make them on your own. Here’s an easy-to-prepare and a fast recipe for homemade granola bars:

Homemade Granola Bars

Here’s an easy-to-prepare and a fast recipe for homemade granola bars.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Instructions
  1. Mix together the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut. Pre-bake for 10-12 minutes. When lightly browned, take it out and mix in the wheat germ.

  2. Mix butter, honey, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small pan and boil them. When cooked for a minute, pour it over toasted oatmeal mixture. In the end, add dried fruit.

  3. Bake for another 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 2 or 3 hours before cutting and serve at room temperature. 

These are great to-go snacks you can have on your way to the gym or unwrap right before you hit the treadmill.

Fresh juice

Freshly squeezed juice has all the perks of fresh fruit and the commodity of a beverage. You can make your own fruit mixes, combining citruses with apples, adding brown sugar or honey and fresh mint leaves or cucumber slices.

In any situation, these are way healthier than any boxed juice and can be consumed as pre-workout drinks, since the sugar will keep you full while the juice and water will make you stay fresh and hydrated.

Having to choose the right exercise for yourself is a challenging, but worthwhile task, as long as you won’t forget about the fuel your body also needs. Having properly selected pre- and post-workout meals is as important as conducting your exercise correctly. Right nutrition can help you reach your goal faster, and successfully maintain the results for a longer time.

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