Pre Workout Foods | Optimise Your Performance

Written by Jenifer Canez

Pre-Workout Foods That Will Boost Your Performance

If you have made personal training a part of your healthy lifestyle, then you should know how you can create a balance between your diet and your workout routines. All you need to do is to make sure you eat the right combination of foods before your workout. This is how you can benefit the most from your functional fitness workouts.


So what exactly are you supposed to eat as your pre-workout food for better performance? Well, there are 3 main macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. You must consume a combination of these for the most effective pre workout meal.

pre workout foods

#1 Carbohydrates


During high-intensity exercise, carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy that is used for fuel. Think about an automobile. Without gasoline, the car starts to halt and putter, and eventually shuts down altogether. This is similar to what your body can do when it is in a state of starvation! Without the proper fuel to keep you going during high-intensity exercise, your body is unable to take on the task at hand and will probably shut down. Notice how I used the term “high intensity” exercise.


During high-intensity exercise such as weightlifting and sprinting, the body must use carbohydrates for energy, as fat will simply not provide the energy that is required. However, during low-intensity physical activity, such as walking and everyday normal activities, fat is a suitable source of energy to provide fuel for the body.


Here is an example of high carbohydrate food to take as your pre-workout foods

✓ Banana

✓ Wheat bread

✓ Apple juice

✓ Almonds

✓ Wheat bagel


#2 Protein


Protein is by far the most important of the three if you can only have one eat protein before your workout. The protein will give you muscles the building blocks they will need once you start to break down your muscle mass in the gym. The best protein to eat would be sources that are of the highest quality and will be absorbed quickly by your muscles for the fastest repair and growth

Examples of protein sources to consume as pre-workout food including but not limited to:

✓ Yogurt

✓ Almonds

✓ Trail mix

✓ Lentils

Peanut butter

✓ Lean turkey

✓ Lean chicken

Whey protein powder

Casein protein powder

brown rice protein

#3 Fats


Fats will provide your body will the calories and energy it needs to get through the workout. The fats will also increase your anabolic hormone levels to further increase muscle growth. They will help focus your mind and give you a constant flow of sustained energy throughout the workout, avoiding any sugar crashes. Your mind will be focused and ready for the intense workout.

#4 Caffeine


Although highly debated and more of a nutritional supplement, caffeine has been and still is a popular pre-exercise supplement, and can be added to the pre-workout meal for additional performance benefits. Not only does caffeine provide energy, but it also stimulates the brain leader to enhanced concentration, which can ultimately benefit your workout. The majority of studies have revealed that caffeine does indeed enhance performance for both longer lasting, endurance and short-term, high-intensity activities.


Unfortunately, some people may be negatively affected by the effects of caffeine, thereby suffering from nausea or “coffee stomach.” It is best to start with a small amount of caffeine pre-workout to see how your body reacts to it. For those of you who do not react negatively to caffeine and wish to reap its benefits, aim for approximately 1.5 milligrammes per pound of body weight 1-hour pre workout.

coffee caffeine

Final Note


An adequate pre-workout meal is extremely beneficial for anyone looking to gain muscle. Aim for a small or light meal an hour prior to workout or a larger meal 4 hours before a workout. In both cases, an adequate amount of carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and protein should make up the bulk of the meal.


Aim to eat a small to moderate size meal or shake, with an even amount of each of the macronutrients above. Eat it 30-60 minutes before your workout to allow for digestion but still, let your body be absorbing the nutrients when you are training. Combine this pre workout meal with an intense muscle building workout to see optimal muscle gains.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Physiology and a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition. Faye has worked with numerous high-profile oranisations, such as Men's Health, Sky Sports, Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves, British Dressage and GB Rowing, providing her expert sports science support. Find out more about Faye's experience here: She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding.

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