What to eat before an exercise and when

Posted on: 28 Sep 2014

Do you ever wonder if what you're currently eat is appropriate for the type of exercise you do? Yes? Have you ever thought about what you eat before you exercise? Yes? Many people who exercise, no matter if it is a gym session, running, swimming or any other type of exercise, eat inappropriately. We all do it from time to time. It's another thing that makes us human. Its usually the foods that sound healthy but really aren't tend to be my downfall... like most people. 

The two fuels that the body uses during exercise are carbohydrate and fat; during high and moderate intensity exercise more carbohydrate is used, than fat. Our bodies stores carbohydrates in small amounts in the liver and muscles, as glycogen. The carbohydrates in your diet will help provide you with some of the energy needed,  during exercise; these are mainly found in starchy snacks and sugary drinks that you take immediately before and during exercise. Here is when I start to take little sips of my Lucazade Sport drink.  

It is ideal to eat a meal three to four hours before your exercise and have a small snack just before, ideally between one and two hours before your workout. So, if you plan to go to the gym at 5.30pm, try to have a meal (lunch) at 1.30pm and then a snack around 4pm.

Meal ideas – foods suitable for three to four hours before exercise:

  • A small jacket potato and baked beans or cheese
  • Six crackers and cream cheese and a piece of fruit - I like to eat an apple
  • Porridge (made with semi-skimmed milk) with a banana (or starwberries) and a teaspoon of sugar - I like the sachets for this as it's the perfect size, whether it's for lunch or breakfast. if you don't want to add sugar try dried canberries. 
  • Rice with vegetables and lean meat - having a slice of turkey breast on the side is a lovely combination.
  • Pasta and sauce (for example: low fat tomato sauce or Bolognese)
  • Two slices of wholemeal toast, peanut butter / nutella or jam, with a banana on the side.
  • Two weetabix with semi-skimmed milk and a small glass of pure fruit juice (a lovely breakfast for a long run with your local running club.
  • A small jacket potato with tuna and reduced fat mayonnaise and a fruit yogurt

Snack ideas – foods suitable for one to two hours before exercise:

  • One slice of wholemeal toast and jam
  • One small flapjack - I really like an homemade orange and cranberry flapjack. I'll share the recipe soon.
  • A piece of fruit
  • Two digestive biscuits
  • A cereal bar (I prefer a Jordan's bar or a 9bar)
  • A small bowl of cereal and semi-skimmed milk (Be careful with what you choose)
  • A scone


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