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Pre-workout nutrition ideas

Just like you, I and my clients are always wanting to fuel correctly for a workout, from a good night’s sleep to the right nutrition to achieve our goals. Nutrition is key to helping your body recover faster from a workout (whether it’s a mountain climb or a CrossFit class) as well as helping you perform better during the exercise. So this week, I wanted to look at the different parts of a pre-workout snack or meal, and why it’s key to performance.

The simple answer is having a no more than 200 calories of a combination of carbs, fats and protein in your snack or meal pre-workout.

Examples include:

  • 2 rice cakes, cracker bread or slice of toast (carbs), with nut butter (fats and protein)

  • 1 slice of whole wheat or rye toast (carbs), with 1-2 scrambled eggs or boiled egg if you’re eating as a snack at work (fats and protein)

  • Mini ‘overnight oats’ made with 10-15g oats (carbs), a scoop of Greek yoghurt (fats and protein), a handful of berries (little sugary carb boos)

  • A cup of grapes (carbs) and low-fat string cheese (protein and fats)

  • And why are these three macronutrient groups important in combination? Can’t we just have a scoop of peanut butter? Well, each plays a part in strength, recovery, performance and health.

Carbohydrates / Carbs

The majority of carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, stored as glycogen, which your muscles use to fuel your workout, whether it’s a short or high-intensity session.

As glycogen stores are depleted natural through everyday activities, as well as that late-night session at the gym, it’s key to fuel a workout by topping them up with carbs in your pre-workout snack/meal. Otherwise, your performance may be less effective.

Once the body uses the glycogen up, it will switch to using fat stores for longer or lower intensity sessions.


Protein is key to muscle recovery and growth, and it has been shown that having protein (with or without carbs) before a workout can help muscle protein synthesis.

The protein you consume pre-workout can help increase your muscle performance, as well as the well-known aid increased strength and lead body mass overall.


Don’t be afraid of quality fats, as they play an important part of your nutrition. They provide essential oils, such as Omega oils, for joints, and repair from a workout.

However fattier foods, like avocado, has been shown to slower digestion, so don’t have too much before a workout, as the key to a pre-workout snack or meal is to be light and easy to digest to get the maximum benefit.

And of course, make sure your pre-workout nutrition involves keeping hydrated!


If you need help with your nutrition to fuel your performance at CrossFit, in the gym or for a training program, get in touch with me, Chris Lowden on...


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