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When you are working out, there are a handful of factors that enhance or hinder your overall performance. For example, stress and muscle soreness can negatively impact performance, while factors such as motivation and adequate recovery can positively impact performance. One important factor that is often overlooked, however, is proper nutrition. Nutrition, especially in the hours before a workout, is one factor that can either lead to a successful workout or a workout that feels unfinished. To get the most out of your workouts, you need to make sure you’re consuming the right nutrients.

The type and quantity of nutrients you should consume largely depends on the type of exercise. For instance, individuals whose workouts primarily focus on cardiorespiratory endurance—such as running or cycling—will benefit from eating approximately 1 gram of carbohydrates per kilogram of bodyweight at least two hours before exercise. For example, an individual who weighs 60 kilograms (approximately 132 pounds) would need to consume about 60 grams of carbohydrates at least two hours before exercising. These carbohydrates should come in the form of simple sugars such as bananas, apples, granola bars, fruit juice, sports drinks, bagels and cereals among others. Eating the right type and amount of carbohydrates before endurance workouts can help maintain blood sugar levels, delay the onset of fatigue and improve overall cardio performance.

On the other hand, individuals whose workouts primarily focus on resistance training would benefit from eating approximately 20 to 40 grams of high-quality protein three to four hours before working out. Research shows that consuming any amount of protein within this range before and after a workout helps stimulate muscle growth and reduces muscle breakdown for up to three to four hours. Examples of high-quality protein foods include a whey protein shake, milk, chicken breast, top sirloin steak, salmon and tuna among many others.

Whether your training consists of endurance or resistance exercise, eating the right amount of nutrients before a workout is important! Catering your nutrition towards your goals can lead to improvements in your performance.


Aragon, A. A., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2013). Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise
  anabolic window?. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10(1), 5.

Haff, G., & Triplett, N. T. (2016). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, Fourth
  Edition. National Strength and Conditioning Association.

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