To Eat or Not To Eat: Before Your Workout

With any change in nutrition whether it's taking something out, or putting something into the diet, time is the most important factor. You must give your body enough time to adjust and then determine if it's right for you. 

Typically, people will adjust their diet and after a few days, if they feel worse, they bail out on the change. Example, removing caffeine. Many people have headaches and low energy for a few days. The body was so dependent on it, when it was removed it freaked out. But clarity and energy will come. It takes a little time to adjust. For many, after a week or so that starts to change and they feel great.

This applies to what to eat and when, around your workouts. Whatever you choose to do or not do, give it time, at least 3 weeks before adjusting. 

With this in mind, here are some considerations for what before your workout. 
Many people don't like the feeling of food in their stomach as they workout. If that's you and there's not more than 30 minutes between eating and the workout, try not eating. 
If you feel lightheaded or no low energy, this may be part of the initial change of not eating before a workout. You may need to reduce intensity for a period while adjusting. If it persists, go back to eating something. 

If you want to eat here are a few suggestions

  • Hard Boiled Egg
  • Small bit of banana and almond butter
  • Small handful of nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts) 
  • Small handful of berries 
  • Small bite of protein (chicken, turkey slices, steak)

Try different foods until you find one that sits well in your stomach and you feel energy from. Play with combining a little of each, some protein and a little fruit. It may give you what you need. 


If your workout is after your first or multiple meals, try leaving 1-1.5 hours between a meal or snack and workout. If you still feel full, leave 1.5-2 hours. 
Leaving longer than 3 hours may lead to loss of energy and be less than ideal. 

"Should I have a meal or snack before my workout?"
The more time there is between the eat and workout, the more of a regular sized meal you should have. 
"What should I have?"
Longer between eat and workout, have protein, carbs and fat. A normal sized balanced meal.

What are protein carbs and fat? Click here to download a great infographic!

If you have less time, a smaller amount of carbs can provide a little needed energy. 

"What about pre workout?"
Pre workout is a supplement that usually has some caffeine to provide energy. This can be a fine supplement if you are looking for an energy boost. There are hundreds of different pre workouts sold and the only one we recommend is made by Ascent. It's a clean product meaning it doesn't have a huge ingredient list of things that are chemicals and dye colorings to give it a specific color or taste. We trust this brand over every other pre workout brand.
It is available for purchase here at CrossFit City Line. 

What you eat before your workout should give you energy and fuel to feel like you can get after the days workout without being bogged down. 

You are your best test subject and should treat eating or not eating like a lab project. Try something, give it time and see how your body reacts not on day 1 or day 5, but after 3 weeks to allow your body to adjust and show you whether to continue it or not. 


Mat Frankel