The Best Things to Eat Before Training

If you read my recent article, then you know how important nutrition is for serious lifters, whether your goals involve size, strength, or (especially) both. Knowing that nutrition is important feels a lot different than knowing what to do about it, though. So, if you’re struggling, here are a few concrete tips for getting started with what is, in my opinion, the most important meal of the day: the preworkout meal.

Remember what we’re going for here: easily digestible foods with a high carb content and some fat and protein. (Need a refresher on why? Go check out the article). This meal should be timed about 1-2 hours before you get the gym; in my opinion, it’s best to eat closer to when you actually start lifting, but not so close that you feel uncomfortable during your training.

Food Choices

When choosing foods, above all else, pay attention to how you respond and how you feel after eating. It doesn’t matter whether you choose something with a perfect glycemic index (if such a thing existed) or a load of micronutrients if that food makes you feel like shit while you’re training. And what works for me, or your training partner, or some Internet guru might not be what works for you. Listen to your body.

That said, here are some good places to start:

  • Carbs. Instant oats or grits, potatoes, white rice, bananas, pasta. I’m not a fan of most breads or bagels (except some of the sprouted-grain varieties, like Ezekiel). Also avoid fibrous fruits or vegetables.
  • Protein. Eggs, (high-quality) protein powder. Lean meats and dairy are good here if they work for you. Don’t overdo it or be adventurous here; protein farts are the last things you want to worry about during a heavy squat set.
  • Fats. Nuts or nut butters, egg yolks, butter, oils. Again, you don’t need a whole lot of fat in your preworkout meal.

It’s not difficult to put these things together into a cohesive meal: pasta with meat sauce, eggs with oatmeal, a protein shake with a couple bananas and a scoop of peanut butter will all work well. Don’t overthink it.


Pollack’s Protein Pancakes

It wouldn’t be a meal prep article if I didn’t share one of my favorite recipes. These pancakes take 10 minutes to make, taste awesome, and are easy on the stomach but keep me from feeling hungry for a few hours. If I haven’t eaten in a while, I’ll add another couple eggs to this meal.

120 grams whole-grain pastry flour
1 scoop chocolate protein
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg
⅓ cup almond milk

Mix dry ingredients. Add egg and milk. Stir. Cook on a skillet, turning once after the top of the pancakes start to bubble. Serve with sugar-free syrup, a little peanut butter, and some cold-brew coffee. Go smash weight.


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