Who doesn’t want an edge when it comes to their workouts and staying in shape? What you eat is a huge part of that, and timing can also play a critical element. A good nutrition game plan will help your body perform better and recover faster. I reached out to six fitness experts to get their take on this concept.
Fitness Guru, Strength and Conditioning Expert
If I train first thing in the morning, I usually do best in a fasted state (especially if I’m just doing conditioning). If I’m doing some lifting I might have a shake with berries, almond butter, and MCT oil. If I’m training later in the day, my favourite meal is three poached eggs, 6 oz of potatoes, and 1/4 of an avocado.
Chief Fitness Officer, Lebert Fitness
Hmmmm… I am one of the lucky ones who can eat an entire pizza and train! That being said, I usually train late in the morning after a few coffees (okay three! Lol!) and very little food; just a little toast and peanut butter.
Canadian Olympian and Gold Medalist
That’s an easy one. Never eat pre-workout.
Professional Athlete at IFBB Professional League Coach at Pro Gym
My favourite pre-workout meal is a mostly protein and fat meal consisting of wild game meat, a handful of nuts, and a bit of berries. The meat raises dopamine levels, which gives you drive for the workout. The nuts are precursors of acetyl-choline, which will raise attention. Drive and attention is what you want prior to a heavy workout. I also make sure I add extra sodium for a better muscle pump. I like Celtic sea salt or Himalayen sea salt. Make sure to eat 60-90 minutes before your workout. Eating too close to the workout won’t give you the same level of blood in the muscles (the pump). Some say that’s bull, but it’s true. Testing it isn’t that hard either. Plus, you wouldn’t want a belly full of food prior to a squat on deadlift day. Add organic black coffee 30 minutes before and you’re good to go.
Former Mr. America and Mr. Universe Winner/author of The Physics of Resistance Exercise
I’m not a believer in “pre-workout,” meaning that I don’t believe what you eat before a workout needs to be special in any way, other than simply not eating a huge meal, nor avoiding a meal entirely. You shouldn’t go to a workout hungry, nor should you go to a workout after having eaten a huge steak and potato dinner. All of my meals, including the one I eat before my workout, is a meal that contains about 4 oz of chicken, low glycemic carbs (steamed veggies, sweet potato, tomato, etc.) and olive oil/avocado. I might have a cup of coffee, or take a caffeine pill (No-doz) if I’m feeling sluggish, but I don’t take a pre-workout drink, ever. I don’t think there’s any pre-workout trick that is necessary. Just don’t be hungry, don’t be stuffed, and don’t emphasize any particular macro-nutrient. Eat healthfully at every meal, including the one before your workout.
Dr. Mordy Levy, BSc, ND, DC, HOM, MD-IMG, AFMCP
Integrative and Functional Medicine
This is a common question often asked by many of my patients. The ideal pre-workout meal should be personalized based on two major categories that I refer to as the 2G: genetics and goals.
Genetics: In today’s rapidly progressing wellness industry, there are great lifestyle genomic tests that will help you personalize your diet and exercise regimen based on your genetic predispositions. Patients can finally learn if they have hidden food intolerances such as dairy or gluten, if they are at high or low risk to be deficient in specific micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, as well as the types of exercise routines to focus on based on the findings of these tests. For example, patients can learn whether they are prone to injuries, to shift focus on endurance or weight resistance training, and what can be done to accelerate exercise recovery – factors that are all fundamental to their path to wellness.
GOALS: Are you planning on losing weight? If so, what might be recommended is exercising in a fasting state (no meal). If you are looking to gain muscle while losing fat and are genetically at high risk for soft tissue injuries and are gluten intolerant but have no issue of lactose intolerance, you may be at high risk of Vitamin C deficiency. A ratio of 1:1 complex carbs to protein one hour before the workout with high BCAA content in conjunction with a weight/resistance training program that includes a warm up and cool down, and additional collagen and vitamin C supplementation might be recommended. An example that follows this ratio is gluten-free oatmeal with a whey protein supplement in order to meet the required protein intake.
Once we gather and review all these important genetic markers in addition to your fitness or health goals, we can assess and prescribe a specific personalized exercise, diet and supplement plan, including a pre-workout meal.
Note: Please remember to consult your physician or licensed health care professional before starting any form of exercise and or dietary program.
Lorne’s Take: Personally if I’m training early in the day, I train in fasted state and usually supplement with some BCAA’s. If it is a more intense work I will usually have some type of beef along with some raw nuts.