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    Pre-workout nutrition: what to eat, when to eat it, and what to avoid

    Posted by Warren Pole, co-founder, 33Shake on

    Your pre-workout nutrition choices make a huge difference to the outcome of the session. Correct pre-workout nutrition means you’re able to push harder with better energy levels and reap more performance gains. Come race day, nailing your pre-workout nutrition means you’ll get the best from yourself. But what should you eat? And when? Do you know what to avoid?

    Fortunately, there are some very simple rules to help you hit that pre-workout fuelling sweet spot.

    pre workout nutrition - runners

    Your pre-workout nutrition choices can make or break your session

    Pre-workout nutrition timing: when to eat

    Timing is everything. But don’t worry – it really isn’t as complicated as many experts would have you believe. The golden rule is to base the foundation of everything on your normal mealtimes.

    For a morning workout, simply having a good breakfast will do the trick. For lunchbreak workouts or post-work sessions, a snack like banana or rice cakes with peanut butter will work wonders. Afternoon sessions at the weekend can easily be handled simply by adjusting your breakfast and lunch times to fit.

    If you’re having a full meal before a session, leave a good 1-2 hours between eating and training, but feel free to experiment with this to find your own sweet spot.

    It’s a good idea to keep digestion time in mind when pre-workout fuelling. Different foods take different periods to digest – our Chia Energy Gel gets in your system fast, in about 15-minutes, for example.

    Pre-workout nutrition options: what to eat

    What to eat will partly depend on the time of day of you are training (see below for details on timing your pre-workout nutrition right), but this menu gives you a range of options to choose from. The more you play around with these, the more you’ll develop them and discover what works best for you.

    The simple key is to base everything on whole foods, keep it natural and keep it tasty. This way you max out nutrient density which is vital - the more nutrients you can pack into your pre-workout fuel, the more your body will be able to make of the session ahead.

    1 Pre-workout porridge:

    Porridge is a such a humble staple it’s easy to forget that when made right it’s also a pre-workout powerhouse. Perfect yours with these tips:

    • Use whole rolled oats for more stable, slower-release energy, and make them with milk or your preferred alternative milk
    • Avoid honey, sugar, cream or sweeteners - this will only lead to an energy crash right when you don't want it!
    • Instead, load your porridge with nuts, seeds (flaxseedshemp seeds and chia are ideal), real fruit like blueberries, stawberries or banana. You could even mix in a sprinkling of maca
    • As a final touch, mix some unsweetened shredded coconut for flavour and good fats. 

    pre workout nutrition - good stuff

    Good stuff goes in. Great performance comes out

    2 Pre-workout raw power bowl (sweet):

    Simply put, this is a bowl of fruit, nuts and more. When you look at the nutrient-density – which we know is crucial to sports performance - this is a winner. These take seconds to make, taste awesome and your body will thank you. This recipe’s one of our favourites:

    1. Take half a chopped avocado for a hit of good fats, mix in a bowl with a chopped apple or pear for carbs
    2. Now max out that nutrient density by blending in raw almonds and chia seeds for protein, coconut flakes for added good fat and cinnamon powder for taste with brilliant anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties
    3. Welcome to one perfect bowl of powerful, nutrient dense pre-workout fuel

    3 Pre-workout raw power bowl (savoury):

    This is the same theory as the sweet raw power bowl, except this one’s savoury:

    1. Start again with half a chopped avocado for good fats, add chickpeas for carbs and protein
    2. Now blend with chopped tomatoes and courgette
    3. Add olive oil and salt
    4. Enjoy!

    4 Pre-workout snack #1: Banana and peanut butter

    The good old banana/peanut butter combo is a powerful, natural and tasty hit of carbs, fats and proteins.

    Dive straight in by dipping your banana right into the jar or add a sliced ‘nana to peanut butter on toast.

    Remember to use sugar-free peanut butter or – even better – use almond butter. Peanut butter has a lot of benefits for athletes, but it does increase acidity while almond butter doesn’t.

    5 Pre-workout snack #2: 33Shake Chia Energy Gel

    Natural, nutrient dense and super-tasty, our Chia Energy Gels are an ideal pre-workout snack for anyone looking for max benefits, particularly if you’re short on time. Just add water, fruit juice or coconut water, mix up and enjoy a perfect blend of carbs, proteins and good fats with all the energy you need and no workout-wrecking sugar spikes or energy crashes.

    pre workout nutrition - cyclists

    Fuel yourself with whole, natural foods

    Pre-workout nutrition: what to avoid

    What you fuel with pre-workout matters, which is why it’s also important to avoid certain food as they can wreck your workout before you’ve even begun.

    The main pre-workout foods to avoid are:

    • Processed foods
    • Artificial sweeteners
    • Sweetened soft drinks (Coke, Sprite, etc)
    • Energy drinks (Monster, Red Bull, etc)

    The problem with all the above is well documented. They will all give you an energy spike, followed by an inevitable slump right when you don’t want it. Thus, forcing you to consume more and more, and we all know the real concern around ingredients like maltodextrin which is a key component of products like these.

    The above also raise acidity and inflammation throughout the body, as well as restricting immune function. Keep it whole, natural and nutrient dense and watch your results go through the roof.

    Pre-workout nutrition: race day

    With the options above you are now set for nailing your pre-workout nutrition and putting yourself in the pocket to truly unleash the best in your sessions and raise your game to a new level.

    There will be some days though when you need even more. We're talking race days, big training days, or those heavy training blocks with multiple sessions – on those days you need our Elite Pre and Post Workout Shakes.

    Packing a powerful punch of 33 of nature's most potent athletic superfoods, these shakes deliver everything you need for your biggest days in just seconds.

    Pre-workout nutrition: don’t forget the big picture

    When you’re asking your body to perform day in, day out, you need to look bigger than solely your nutrition immediately pre-workout. Sure, the advice in this article will help you nail your sessions, but every day nutrition is equally important.

    Maintaining a healthy lifestyle full of nutrients is crucial to immune function, reducing inflammation, improving recovery and firing on all cylinders, which is why we created our Ultimate Daily Greens.

    pre workout nutrition - ultimate greens

    More performance-boosting content

    From the 33Shake Podcast

    From the 33Shake YouTube Channel

    From the Blog

    7 golden rules of post workout nutrition

    Nutrient density and sports performance

    Calories measurement and performance

    Dairy products and athletic performance – good or bad?


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