Here is exactly what to eat before a workout

Share this article

Do you have a workout planned in the evening but you’re not sure what to eat for lunch and at what time?

Healthy Mummy nutritionist Cheree has shared with us EVERYTHING we need to know about when to eat, what to eat AND why you should dig in before a workout.

After all, food is energy and the consumption of smart, nutritious snacks can actually make a difference in your Healthy Mummy workout. 

Here is your pre-workout know-how.


What to eat before a workout

The timing of when to eat before a workout will depend on the type of exercise you are about to undertake:

Eat 3-4 hours prior to a longer, endurance style workout.

Cheree says, “If you’re about to head into a longer, endurance style workouts you’ll be aiming for a sustained release of glycogen from the breakdown of carbohydrates and for this your body will work best if you are able to eat 3-4 hours prior to start time.

“This meal should be centred on low glycaemic index (GI) complex carbohydrate foods.”

Eat 45-60 minutes before a usual gym workout or run around the block

For your usual gym workout or a run around the block with the dog, 45-60 minutes is a nice timeframe. For this, Cheree says that it’s beneficial to combine carbohydrates with a small protein hit and keep these meals a low calorie option (250cal or less).

Cheree’s top 5 picks for what to eat pre-workout (1-2 hours prior to ‘go time’)

1. Banana Smoothie

Combine a banana, oats and some nut butter with some cinnamon or cacao powder and use almond or coconut milk as a delicious base.

Bananas are not only low GI, which means they provide sustained energy release and carbohydrates to the body, but they also contain high amounts of potassium which assist with optimal muscle and nerve function.

ipping on coconut water can make you less dehydrated during your workout as well.

Try our Healthy Mummy banana smoothie before your next Tabata workout.

2. Green Apple slices with 100% nut butter

A small amount of fibre and carbohydrate in the apple combined with protein and monounsaturated fats found in nut butter will help to provide lasting energy, keeping you feeling fuller for longer and relieving you of the mid-workout energy drain.

3. Cottage cheese on wholegrain rice crackers 

Cottage cheese contains an optimal form of protein that is slow-digesting and will fuel your muscles for a longer period of time.

Combine this delicious treat with wholegrain crackers and you’ve added the complex carbohydrates your body is able to use to replace the glycogen stores that are used up for energy during exercise.

4. Overnight oats 

overnight oats

If it’s a morning workout that gets you going then opting for an overnight oats recipe might be just the fuel you need. Try combing oats, oat or nut milk and some cinnamon in a jar stored in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, top this dish with all your favourites – nuts, berries and a dollop of Greek yoghurt.

Try this recipe with your The Healthy Mummy protein powder for added benefits of improved muscle recovery and function.

5. Low fat plain or Greek yoghurt 

Healthy Take Away

With a few berries thrown in, this is perfect for the last minute workout preparation rush. If you’re closer to or under the one hour mark before your exercise begins than a lower calorie, higher energy snack is the go-to!

Why do this before a workout?

Knowing how to best fuel your body for a workout will help you shake the most out of your movement.

“Understanding that the body will create energy in three different ways depending on whether we need a quick burst (usually from a natural source of adenosine tryphosphate (ATP) found in the body), a moderate 30-45 min gym workout equivalent (where our body uses glucose) or sustained energy for endurance (requiring the use of our glycogen stores, a substance obtained from the breakdown of carbohydrates) is essential in understanding why you should or shouldn’t eat and what food selections are best for you,” Cheree says.

Without the fuel to fire up these energy sources, our stores can get quite low leaving us with a feeling of mid-workout dread, more difficult muscle recovery and even an increased likelihood of injury.

Keep in mind, as a general rule that we perform better if we have the fuel readily available for our body to use up!

Rhian exercise

The final verdict?

Cheree adds, “The closer you are to your workout, the more simple a meal you should opt for, the more time you have before ‘go time’ and the longer your workout duration will be, the more complex and filling your meal should be.”

On a final note, don’t forget to hydrate!

“Adequate hydration can give you up to 80% more strength in your workout – that’s a huge difference to make with something as simple as drinking water,” she says.

For your best chance at hydration, opt for sipping your daily intake over a 12-14 hour period rather than having larger amounts as separated intervals.

Are you ready to kick-start your weight loss?

Want to shift your weight but feel like you have NO TIME in your day to exercise and eat healthily?

That’s where the Healthy Mummy’s 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge can help.

What do you get? You get access to:

  • 28 days of at home exercise routines (no gym needed) – with video instruction
  • Customisable and breastfeeding friendly meal plans
  • Time-efficient exercises for busy mums – under 30 mins
  • Challenge combines Pilates exercises with interval and circuit training (HIIT)
  • Suitable for basic to advanced fitness levels.
  • Home to thousands of EASY-TO-MAKE recipes.

Find out more about joining the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge.

Share this article

Be part of our friendly and supportive community

Want FREE delicious recipes, fitness tips and great specials?