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Pre Workout Meals
By Mark Strasser M.S. CSCS of CriticalBench.com

Maintaining your strength and energy level is essential when training or competing on a highly intense level. The food you eat is a big factor on how you perform.

  • During exercise athletes primarily rely on pre-existing glycogen stores and fat stores. If your pre-workout meal is eaten at the proper time then you will be assured that your glycogen stores are plenty full and this will optimize performance. Liquid meals can also be an advantage by digesting more rapidly than solid foods as well as provide hydration. Liquid meals can be eaten closer to workouts because they are emptied from the stomach quickly.

  • Pre-workout snacks within 1 hour of competition or practice can be more beneficial to athletes that exercise longer than 60 minutes.

  • It is important to choose primarily carbohydrates before a workout because they are quickly digested, and readily available for fuel.

  • Drink adequate amounts of fluid (avoid dairy). The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 17 ounces of fluid two hours before exercise, as well as enough fluid during exercise to replace the water lost through perspiration. A rule of thumb is to drink enough water to urinate clear prior to a workout. For the first hour of aerobic exercise use water only. Use electro-light replacement drinks after the first hour of exercising.

  • Use caution with foods that have a high sugar content (such as soft drinks and candy). Since athletes' metabolism is higher than the average person they may experience a drop in blood sugar following consumption, which can result in light-headedness or fatigue and loss in performance.

  • Here are some guidelines for when to fuel prior to a competition or event:

Hours Before EventMeal TypeCalories
3-5 hoursLarge meal300-500
2-3 hoursSmall meal200-300
1-2 hoursLiquid meal100-200
.5-1 hourSnack50-100

*With intense exercise your body shifts 80 percent of its blood supply to the muscles in use. This shift deprives the stomach of the blood needed to digest food. This slows digestion and may cause an uncomfortable feeling in the stomach because of undigested food that is still present. A meal that is high in calories will take longer to digest than a lighter snack. It is suggested a three to four hour delay between high calorie meals and intense exercise.

Some examples of meals and snacks are listed below:

pre workout meals BREAKFAST

Meal #1
1 hardboiled egg
1 slice whole grain toast
1 tsp butter
1 tbsp honey or jam
1 fruit 1
8 oz glass water

Meal #2
1 cup low fat yogurt
1 slice whole grain bread
1 tbsp honey or jam
1 cup fruit 1
8 oz glass water

Meal #3
Cup Oatmeal cooked in water
cup cottage cheese
1 fruit 1
8 oz glass water


Meal #1
Turkey Sandwich
4 oz turkey breast sliced
2 slices whole wheat bread
2 tsp mayonnaise
1/2 sliced tomato shredded lettuce
1 cup milk
1 8 oz glass water

Meal #2
1 cup canned split pea soup
5 wheat thin crackers
2 Cups Tossed Green Salad
2 Cups shredded Iceberg lettuce
1/2 Cup diced tomato
1/2 Cup diced cucumber
2 Tbsp Oil/Vinegar Dressing
1 8 oz glass water

Meal #3
Melon Salad
1 cup melon chunks
1/2 cup Strawberries
1/2 cup grapes
1 Tbsp Sunflower Seeds
1 Cup Low Fat Cottage Cheese
1 8 oz glass water


Meal #1
Cajun Snapper
1/2 cup rice
1 cup broccoli (steamed)
1 tbsp olive oil & lemon marinade
1 8 oz glass water

Meal #2
Garlic Ginger Chicken
1 cup pasta
1 green salad tossed
1 tbsp oil/vinegar dressing
1 8 oz glass water

Meal #3
Grilled Tuna
1 Peach
1 8 oz glass water


Snack #1
1 scoop whey protein powder
with 8 oz water
1/2 toasted bagel with Jam

Snack #2
1 hardboiled egg
1 cup strawberries

Snack #3
4 oz artificial crab meat
1 apple

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