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Board certified sports dietitian, pro athlete, freelance nutrition writer, published author, social content developer & personal chef.

Pre Workout Meal

What to eat before a workout is always a hot topic. 

Here are some tips and meal ideas:


  • Workout Duration - heading out for hours? You'll want to eat more first.
  • Intensity - High intensity workouts are harder for the GI system. 
  • Be Realistic - Is this a real training session that needs energy or a morning stroll that can forgo the extra calories?
  • Current Energy - If you're sluggish pre workout, you might want more of a food boost. 
  • Bigger Picture - how does this workout fit in the big picture? is it an easy day? a race specific tun up? Fuel accordingly. 
  • Body Goals - trying to lean out or gain muscle?
  • Past GI Issues - sensitive gut? does your workout require frequent bathroom breaks? Might be time to reevaluate your pre workout meal.
  • Timing -  do you have a 10 minute before hitting the gym or an hour? Try to give yourself a solid 30 minutes to digest food. 

What to eat

  • Avoid Fiber - Can cause gastric stress, distention and discomfort.
  • Avoid Bulk - volume can make you feel overly distended and bloated. 
  • Avoid High Fat - fats provide great staying power, but can get make you feel sluggish and weighed down due to slow gastric emptying. Choose small amounts of healthful fats! 
  • Keep it Simple - pick food combos that are basic and your body has adjusted to. 
  • Have a 'Go To' - find what works and stick with it. Try new things on shorter workouts when there is less risk of things going poorly.
  • Adjust! - don't be afraid to advance your pre workout meal as you continue on your fitness and wellness journey. You're body's needs will change with progress. 
  • Simple vs. Complex - A Honey Stinger gel or other sport food and beverage might give you just the quick energy perk to run out the door asap. The longer you'll be out training, lower intensity of training, and longer time between eating and working out might benefit from a more complex meal that will digest more slowly. 
Bagel + Almond Butter + Honey + Seeds

Bagel + Almond Butter + Honey + Seeds

Chocolate + Banana + Toasted Quinoa! 

Chocolate + Banana + Toasted Quinoa! 

Bagel + Almond Butter + Fruit

Bagel + Almond Butter + Fruit

My Favorites

  • Half a Bagel + Almond Butter + Banana (ideal for my long runs and race practice nutrition)
  • Honey Stinger gel + Water. (when I need to get out the door asap for a high intensity run)
  • Banana + Cappuccino. (my go-to most mornings)
  • Fruit Smoothie. (ideal for hot days when I need more energy)
  • OJ + Handful Trail Mix. (when I need to eat my meal while driving out to a group ride)
  • Pancake + Maple Syrup. (for those uber long rides)
  • Chocolate Smoothie-Cocoa Elite + Water + Cold Coffee + Frozen Strawberries. (yum!)
  • Coconut Water + Salba Chia Seeds + Lime  (for shorter workouts that do not need much fuel but still need hydration and a little energy)
  • Banana + Latte + Chunk of Sweet Bread or Cookie. (if I already have something baked... ) 

If you're starting strong and finishing weak, having a hard time bouncing back after training, or feeling sluggish before heading out the door, it's time to start fueling your body and focusing on that pre workout meal. While you don't need to eat everything, you do need a something. 

What pre workout meal works for you? 

As always, contact me to work on your personal nutrition plan for increased performance! 

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Recovery Nutrition