5 Pre-Workout Nutrition Tips for More Gains

 November 7, 2016|  Dona Maria

In the 3 hours before your training, you want to fuel up your body with nutrients that help you sustain energy levels, boost performance, increase muscle mass and burn fat. Here are 5 nutrition pre-workout tips that help you get more gains from your workout to achieve your ultimate lean and trim body.

Tip#1- Avoid Carbs To Lose More Fat  

If you’re not doing large amounts of intensive cardio every day or have endurance performance goals then you don’t need carbs before training for energy. If you have a healthy and balanced diet and eating every 2 to 3 hours, your muscle glycogen stores are full and can provide you with adequate energy for your workout. Eating carbs before or during training will slow down your fat burning process.

Instead, keep your carbs intakes till after training. Post-training is best because your metabolism is elevated and therefore your body burns calories at a faster rate. Also, your body will use the carbs to replenish your muscle glycogen stores instead of storing them as fat.

Tip#2- Eat Protein To Avoid Muscle Breakdown

Protein intakes before training inhibit muscle protein breakdown and stimulate protein synthesis, or muscle building. Levels of amino acids in your muscles are indicators of whether your muscle is building or wasting. A positive amino acid balance indicates protein synthesis and therefore muscle anabolism (building). When you’re training your amino acid balance should remain positive. If your amino acid levels go low, protein degradation or muscle catabolism (breakdown) occurs, which means that your body uses your muscles as a source of energy.

Make sure you have at least 25g of protein pre-workout to keep a positive amino acid balance. This can be 120g of any high quality protein source like chicken, beef or fish.  If you’re on the go, take 1 scoop of whey protein with water.

Tip#3- Eat Before You Train To Boost Metabolism

Your body burns more calories when training on fed state than training on empty stomach. Eating a light meal before training was shown to enhance fat burning. In a study, 2 tests were done on men doing moderate-intensity cardio: one on fasting state and one on fed state. Those who ate had increased VO2 (oxygen consumption) and RER (respiratory- exchange ratio), indicating enhanced substrate utilization. They also had increased EPOC (excess post exercise protein consumption) which is the amount your metabolism is elevated after training for muscle recovery. This increase remained for 12 and 24 hours after the training session, indicating elevated metabolism and greater fat burn.

If you train in the morning, make sure you have your breakfast before your workout.  Try 4 or 5 egg whites, which will provide you with enough protein to avoid muscle breakdown. If you train at night, try eating in the 3 hours before you train.

Tip# 4- Have Coffee For Better Endurance

Caffeine intakes pre-workout improve performance, increase time to fatigue and workout pain thresholds. It was found to improve performance endurance by more than 11% and reduce perceived level of exertion by more than 5% – basically making your exercise feel easier.

Try having a cup of coffee 20 to 30 mins before your workout to boost your performance. Keep in mind that the efficacy of caffeine to improve performance depends on habitual caffeine intakes and doses. Most studies were done on those who don’t regularly drink coffee.   Not a coffee fan, most pre-workouts provide a source of caffeine, plus additionally supplements that can help boost performance.

Tip#5- Hydrate For Better Performance   

Not drinking enough water, or dehydration, has been shown to reduce performance. It’s also one of the main causes of muscle cramps and soreness. Dehydration can also be the result of excessive sweating during workouts. Dehydration can also be the result of an imbalance in electrolytes including sodium and potassium. The American College of sports Medicine recommends pre-hydration at least several hours before exercising to enable fluid absorption and enhance performance.  In addition to water loading, taking an electrolyte beverage is important to help restore hydration balance in the muscle cells.

Try drinking half a liter of water at least 4 hours before your workout and 1 to 2 glasses of water 10 to 15 minutes before.  Coconut water is also a great natural way to re-store electrolyte balance.  In a recent study, it was shown that coconut water was as effective as a sports drink for improving fluid retention, improving hydration and exercise performance.



Tipton, Kevin D., et al. “Stimulation of net muscle protein synthesis by whey protein ingestion before and after exercise.” American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism 292.1 (2007): E71-E76.

Doherty, M., and P. M. Smith. “Effects of caffeine ingestion on rating of perceived exertion during and after exercise: a meta‐analysis.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports 15.2 (2005): 69-78.

Paoli, Antonio, et al. “Exercising fasting or fed to enhance fat loss? Influence of food intake on respiratory ratio and excess postexercise oxygen consumption after a bout of endurance training.” International journal of sport nutrition 21.1 (2011): 48.

Astorino, Todd A., and Daniel W. Roberson. “Efficacy of acute caffeine ingestion for short-term high-intensity exercise performance: a systematic review.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 24.1 (2010): 257-265.

 November 7, 2016 | Dona Maria
Dona Maria

About the Author

Dona Maria Mesmar is the Nutrition Manager for Kcal Brands. She develops nutrition and diet programs for athletes and provides them with one on one nutrition consultation to help them achieve their body composition goals. She is also a certified fitness instructor, published nutrition writer and has appeared numerous times on national live TV, where she has provided expert advice on nutrition and healthy eating.

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