Workout Nutrient Timing

Eating Before Exercise

How will you optimise your nutrition for your next workout? We can help you on this. Eating properly before your next workout can help enhance your workout performance as well as assist your fat burning potential. It can also directly affect your body composition by eating the number of food calories you burn and decreasing the number of calories you store. In general, most athletes find that eating about 3 hours before racing or about 2 hours before training works very well. When racing, it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to digest your pre-event meal. Some athletes will have a snack or energy drink/gel about 30 minutes before competition to keep their blood sugar normal. While training, there can be more flexibility, depending upon its nature. Pro athletes tend to spend their first hour of exercising easy or warming up, so they can afford to eat a little closer to training. That’s probably not you, if you’re a time restricted athlete.

One thing to consider, is that eating about 1 to 2 hours before racing or training can lead to some issues during the first hour of activity. The reason is insulin levels spike at about 1 to 1 1/2 hours after eating. This can cause a short-term dip in blood glucose levels as insulin works to clear glucose from the bloodstream. This situation can be exacerbated by exercising muscles that can take up glucose without the need for insulin. As a result, some athletes often feel a bit weak during the first part of their training session. However, there are other athletes who might wait to eat until after they start exercising if they are running late for a training session. It’s not an ideal approach, but sometimes it works better than crashing during the 1- to 1 ½ hour window.

Ultimately, the ideal time for a pre-exercise meal to maximise workout performance is two to four hours out from your planned session. Four hours allows enough time for a large meal to clear the stomach but not so much that liver glycogen and blood sugar levels begin to drop. More than two hours allows enough time for a medium-sized meal to clear the stomach. It is also recommended to consume foods with higher fat and protein content prior to long workouts. A lower glycaemic index can help prevent those big blood-sugar spikes.

There are always exceptions to the rule! If your priority is fat loss and sporting performance isn’t an issue, forget about your pre-workout meal. Instead, weekly fat-burning workouts done in the early morning hours should be performed on an empty stomach. You may not have the best results, but you will burn fat.

Why Aloha Tri?

At Aloha Tri, we have decades of experience and the right coaching certifications from Ironman University, British Triathlon (Level 3) and TrainingPeaks.  We offer bespoke coached programmes via the Premium TrainingPeaks platform, giving you structure and visibility into your training plan. You can choose from weekly or daily progress reviews, which provides corrective action.  We have worked with hundreds of athletes of all ages and abilities and improved their performance, skills and mindset. What motivates us is the “Aloha spirit”, a powerful way to achieve a desired state of mind and body, which we translate into how we coach you. Contact me ( to maximise your investment in your sport!