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What to eat before a workout

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Unsure what to eat before a workout? There’s a real science to what passes your lips before training: typically, you’ll want to consume slow-release carbs for longer endurance sessions and you’ll need fast-release carbs for short, intense workouts.

But what counts as a slow-release or fast-release carb? And how do other macronutrients, like protein and fats, help during training? We asked a group of qualified nutrition experts to explain. 

What should you eat before a workout?

Pre-training nutrition should be determined by the type of exercise you plan to do and the physiological adaptation you’re trying to achieve – like gaining muscle (opens in new tab) or losing weight. But carbs are best for providing energy.

Man wearing gym clothes eating large bowl of pasta

(Image credit: Getty)

If you favor exercises like HIIT, weightlifting, or power training, you should attempt to prioritize quick-releasing high-glycemic carbs that spike sugar levels for a quick energy release. Think instant oatmeal and sports beverages. If you prefer low-intensity endurance exercise like longer runs, slow-release carbs planned a few hours to an hour in advance will help sustain energy release over time. Think quinoa, whole grains, sweet potatoes, and pulses in this case.


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