Nutrient Timing

Pre-Workout: Fuelling your session effectively

The main goal of a pre-workout meal/snack is to ensure the muscles are loaded for immediate energy needs. These types of meals are mainly carbohydrates with some protein (not a significant amount) as protein takes longer to digest and does not serve as a fuel source during workouts. 

Consuming meals containing complex carbohydrates approximately 2 hours before and simple carbohydrates 60 mins before training will ensure you get an effective training session especially when training at high intensities (weight training and most sports). This is because you are topping up glycogen in the muscles that your body will utilize during a training session – provided intensity is high.

It is not always going to be possible to have these meals prior to exercise as you may be exercising early in the morning. So getting up 2 hour prior to that to make a meal would be impractical.

Choose the appropriate meal / snack in relation to the time prior to the workout. For example if you are exercising in the afternoon you will be able to implement all of the following. If you are exercising first thing in the morning you’ll likely only be able to select the snack options.

2 hours pre exercise

1 hour pre

Simple carbohydrates that are quickly digested can be consumed shortly before your training. These snacks are simple carbohydrates that are quickly digested and are a quick release of carbohydrates. 

>45 Minutes pre

These snacks are mainly fructose-based and very quickly absorbed. At this point, prior to a workout, it would also be prudent to have caffeine.

> 30 minutes pre

These snacks are liquid form and are super quickly absorbed as there is little digestion required, ideal immediately before a workout.


The goal is to stimulate anabolism (muscle building), reduce catabolism (muscle breakdown), and ensure that glycogen stores are replenished

The protein sources ideally should be fast-digesting such as whey, soy protein isolate, and lean meats

Carbohydrates should be a high glycemic index, carbs with low fiber such as children’s cereals, rice, and white bread.

Fats should be minimized as they can reduce the rate of digestion of other nutrients.