Should I eat before I workout and if so, WHAT?!?

At Jaime Andrews Fitness located in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington DC, we start our workouts early! I’m often asked by my members if I recommend eating before a workout and if so, what the best options are. My initial response is to definitely eat something! Dinner was probably somewhere between 6-8pm the night before, and you hopefully slept for about 6-8 hours, which may possibly be the longest period of your day where you will go without consuming food! Therefore, you need to break this fast and fuel up to feel good and reap the most benefits of your workout.

Your choice in what to eat depends largely upon the type of activity you will be participating in. Medium to high intensity workouts that will last about an hour, such as a 3-6 mile run, a boot camp or personal training session, call for simple carbohydrates. For these types of workouts, your body requires fuel that burns quickly and is easy to digest. Some suggestions include:

  • Dates
  • Bananas
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapple
  • Chopped papaya with fresh lime
  • Add some water or coconut water, and all of the above could easily be blended into a smoothie for a quick and simple breakfast option.

If you’re planning a workout that will be more intense than the above and extend from 1-3 hours, such as a marathon or half marathon, you should add additional healthy protein and fat in an easy to digest form. This will improve your endurance in moderate to long events as well as extend the time you need to refuel. Here are some suggestions:

  • Banana with almond butter and raw honey
  • Sprouted whole wheat wrap with mashed avocado and sea salt
  • Vega, Pure, or other high quality food/energy bar (both sold at Whole Foods)
  • Trail mix made with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit (possible ingredients: walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, blueberries, raisins, and cranberries)
  • Fresh fruit (like papaya or pineapple) with a handful of walnuts or almonds

Bottom line: Eating and exercise go hand in hand. Just keep in mind that the duration and intensity of your activity will dictate how often and what you should eat and drink!