You are what you eat

I get asked a lot about what to eat before working out. A pre-workout meal doesn’t have to be the same thing every time or exactly what I eat. It does, however have to meet some requirements to be beneficial for your overall health and your workout.

Some goals for a pre-workout meal (courtesy of Coach Poliquin):


As I’ve covered in a previous post ( is vital to performance. It takes more than just water to stay hydrated; proper amounts of sodium are needed for the body to stay hydrated and for muscles to be ready for growth.


Real, whole foods are best so I always tell people to leave about 90 minutes between their meal and working out, or 45 minutes at the minimum. Some workouts will be a little taxing on the body, like leg day, so I usually space the meal and workout further apart for those.


You’re not going to have a good workout if you’re not focused on the task at hand. What you eat can help you get there. The brain uses acetylcholine and dopamine for drive and focus. The meat and nuts meal, which is also covered in a previous post (, provide both of these vital neurotransmitters. Carbs have been shown to decrease IQ by up to 20%, which is never a good thing, but especially not before working out.

Insulin and pH.

During a training session higher Cortisol is beneficial for growing muscles, so insulin must be kept low. To keep insulin low avoid carbs pre-workout, they aren’t needed pre-workout as the body utilizes stored glycogen. A slightly elevated pH helps during training due to anabolism being triggered by inflammatory processes.


Author: NFShealth

Certified personal trainer, grad student in nutrition. Obsessed about all things regarding nutrition and health.

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