3 Keys to Pre-Workout Eats

by Susan Lacke from Fit Bottomed Girls

What you eat before heading out the door to ride can make or break your workout. Starting a workout on an empty stomach can mean an express trip to Bonkville; eating too much can cause a mid-ride visit to –ahem - fertilize your neighbor’s rose garden.

So what’s a girl to do? Believe it or not, planning a pre-workout meal and snack isn’t as hard as many people would think. There are three key elements to consider when preparing sustenance before a sweat session:

1) Calories

If you have a time to eat a proper meal or snack before your workout, eat at least two hours beforehand, to allow your body to break down the food. In this meal, shoot for 400-600 calories.

Even if you’re pressed for time – say, you wake up minutes before an early-morning run – try to eat 100 to 200 calories (a gel packet, for example, or a few dates) with a healthy gulp of water 15-30 minutes before heading out the door, to top off your reserves.

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2) Content

You don’t need to eat plates of spaghetti to carb-load just before you workout; instead, get a good mix of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. 3 grams of carbohydrates to 1 gram of protein is typically said to be the perfect ratio, with a splash of healthy fats for good measure. Some typical pre-workout meals and snacks:

  • A smoothie with protein powder
  • Bread, English muffins or toaster waffles with peanut butter
  • Cereal with milk
  • Fruit and yogurt
  • A banana with almond butter
  • Hummus and pita bread (or veggies)
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There are also a lot of atypical pre-workout snacks: believe it or not, cold pizza, ice cream and soup are some pre-ride eats I’ve seen fellow triathletes consume. The bottom line: Every body is different. Play around with different foods until you learn what works best in yours.

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3) Hydration

If your training takes place first thing in the morning, keep a bottle of water on your nightstand and start sipping as soon as you wake up. Through breathing, bathroom trips and sweat, you can be below your normal hydration levels when you wake up. You’ll want to drink to replenish the fluids you’ve lost.

Even if your workout is later in the day, it’s good to make sure you are hydrating well in the hours before…and with water, not juices, soda or carmel-mocha-latte-frappuccinos.

Make water your drink of choice and drink it often. For flavor, consider hydration tablets like nuun electrolyte tablets, which have all the hydration benefits of sports drinks, but without the artificial processing.

If you’re consistent with good food and drink pre-workout, you’ll be in a better position to train well and ride strong!

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