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What to Eat Before A Workout (Based On How You Exercise)

Have you ever started an amazing leg day only to lose your energy halfway through? Maybe you hit the wall mid-run or realize you ate a little too much before Pilates. Figuring out what to eat before every different kind of workout takes some trial and error. It's not an exact science, and everyone's dietary needs are different. But once you find the right match, you'll have the energy to not only make it through your workouts, but also support your recovery, too.

Here are some tips on what to eat before a workout, broken down by specific type of exercise.

Vital Note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.

The Workout: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT is done by performing short, intense bursts of cardio exercise followed by rest periods of equal or shorter time. Since HIIT workouts often includes full-body movements that elevate your heart rate, such as burpees, box jumps, mountain climbers and plyometrics, they burn a higher number of calories and require adequate energy supply so you don't lose steam early on.

What to Eat Beforehand:

  • 2 T of nut butter with a banana
  • Apple with nut butter
  • Celery sticks or sprouted crackers
  • Greek yogurt with fruit

The Workout: Endurance Training 

For longer cardio workouts like running, cycling or swimming, you'll need to keep your energy going over a longer period of time. If you're in training for endurance sports like marathons, triathlons or cycling races, you'll need to consume food before and possibly even during the events, depending on duration. It's recommended to eat (mostly carbs) at least one hour before your workout.

What to Eat Beforehand:

  • Whole-grain cereal with milk
  • Bagel or toast with a lean meat, nut butter, or honey
  • Oatmeal with a banana

For shorter cardio workouts, consider fueling up with a protein bar (we recommend the Vital Performance™ Protein Bar) or energy gels.


The Workout: Strength Training

With strength workouts, all that power has to come from somewhere. Macros (fat, protein and carbs) are essential for providing energy and helping build muscle. You'll want to eat at least an hour before training (sometimes longer, depending on what your stomach can tolerate), and should eat a mix of protein, carbs and healthy fats. Depending on your goals, you can also take a pre-workout (try Vital Performance™ PRE) to help you get in the zone.

You want to eat the correct foods beforehand and stay hydrated (we recommend Vital Proteins® Collagen Water™). You should also work with a coach to determine appropriate weight to lift and duration of workouts.

What to Eat Beforehand:


The Workout: Pilates or Yoga

Both Pilates and yoga use breath to maximize each movement, so you'll want to avoid a heavy meal before class. If you've had too much to eat, it can be hard to fully breathe or even cause an upset stomach. And since both workouts utilize your core, it might be better to save a large meal for after.

What to Eat Beforehand:

  • 1-2 hard boiled eggs
  • An apple with nut butter
  • Smoothie
  • Handful of almonds

The bottom line: When matching up what you eat for each type of workout that you do, remember that carbohydrates give you energy and protein builds muscle and helps keep you fuller longer. It's also important to hydrate throughout the day.

Fuel Your Workouts With Vital Performance™