Main menu


 What should you eat before strength training?

A question that often arises in the minds of bodybuilders is: "What should I eat before training?" Everyone is looking for the perfect meal or snack to eat before a workout to get maximum energy. Therefore, nutrition is very important when practicing a sport as it is considered the fuel for the body and muscles. It is therefore recommended to have a snack during the workout, but also before and/or after to satisfy the body's needs. This can improve energy and athletic performance, leaving you less tired to cope with exercise. So in this article, we'll look at the macronutrients in our diet to determine what we should be eating before a strength training session.

What should you eat before strength training?

Focus on different macronutrients

There are three macronutrients in our diet: protein, carbohydrates, and fat.


Protein is an important macronutrient for athletes and strength trainers. Scientific studies have shown that diets high in protein can promote muscle growth and prevent muscle loss, even during calorie restriction, helping to maintain and build muscle mass (1). Protein is very present in our daily diet: white and red meat, eggs, fish, dairy products, legumes... They are also available in supplement form, such as whey protein.


Carbohydrates are macronutrients that are considered the main source of energy for the body and muscles. The body can store them in limited quantities in glycogen stores in the muscles. Carbohydrates are divided into two categories: simple carbohydrates and complete carbohydrates. The latter are preferred for their low glycaemic index, which means they can provide long-lasting energy without raising blood sugar levels. Simple carbohydrates provide quickly available energy and raise blood sugar levels.

Simple carbohydrates are useful when consumed during exercise to provide immediate energy and maintain glycogen stores. Drinks with formulations such as maltodextrin or dextrose are available for this purpose. Complete carbohydrates such as rice, quinoa, pasta, pulses, legumes, etc. are recommended in the diet.


Lipids are macronutrients that can be beneficial to health if they contain omega-3. Cardiological associations recommend a daily intake of 1 g of the two omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, sudden death, and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease (2).

However, they take a long time to be assimilated and are therefore not recommended in combination with exercise as they provide no real benefit. They are found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, but also in vegetable oils such as olive oil and linseed oil... It is important to choose quality fats.

Why eat before strength training?

Some strength coaches like to eat before training to improve their performance and have more energy, so they avoid an empty stomach. During strength training, the body and muscles use their fuel reserves for intense and prolonged exercise. These reserves are usually reserves of glycogen, carbohydrates, and sugars, which are depleted as the workout progresses. When these reserves are depleted, the body naturally draws on muscle reserves and therefore protein, which can lead to muscle catabolism, which is obviously not the goal.

What to eat before exercise?

As already mentioned, it is recommended to eat carbohydrates before or during your workout to get adequate energy during the activity. Carbohydrates such as maltodextrin or dextrose powder mixed with water, BCAAs, or a drink of your choice can be taken before training. BCAAs are the so-called essential branched-chain amino acids, consisting of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which cannot be synthesized by the body and must be provided through diet and supplements. According to scientific studies, taking BCAAs before and after exercise has a positive effect on reducing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting muscle protein synthesis (3).

The Optigura trainer recommends

It is also recommended that you consume a snack or meal about 1.5 hours before exercise to provide your muscles with adequate amino acids and carbohydrates in the form of oatmeal or fruit, such as a banana or apple.

As you can see, eating pre-workout food and consuming fast carbohydrates and/or BCAAs during your workout can be very helpful for better results.

You can read also:

5 reasons why fitness training is a must

(1) Devries MC, Phillips SM. Protein supplements to promote muscle mass and health: the benefits of whey. J Food Sci. 2015;80 Suppl 1:A8-A15.

(2) von Schacky C, Harris WS. Cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Cardiovasc Res. 2007;73(2):310-315.

(3) Shimomura Y, Murakami T, Nakai N, Nagasaki M, Harris RA. Exercise promotes BCAA catabolism: effects of BCAA supplementation on skeletal muscle during exercise. J Nutr. 2004;134(6 Suppl):1583S-1587S.


table of contents title