Consistently eating the proper balance of carbs, protein and fat can make or break your bodybuilding
progress. The preworkout meal, best eaten 60 minutes prior to training, is another opportunity to
optimize your performance and subsequent gains. Corning into your workout properly fueled will enable
you to train longer, harder and with increased focus.
Generally, the ideal preworkout combination is moderate in carbs and protein, and low in fat, although
this depends somewhat on the food you've eaten that day. Treat this minimeal as way to balance or
complement your diet; it will provide you with the energy and mental focus to get through an intense
The purpose of consuming carbs before a workout - complex carbs in particular - is to fuel your
body so you don't crash midway through training. Bodybuilders don't normally have to worry about
carbing up like endurance athletes might, because bodybuilders seldom completely deplete glycogen
stores during weight training.
A small amount carbohydrate is usually enough. Base the amount you eat on what you've already taken
in. If you've had a big bowl of oatmeal and large baked potato earlier in the day, for example, you
may want only 20 grams(g) of carbs preworkout; if you've had few carbs during the of day - whether
by circumstance or deliberate effort - you may want to bump it up to 50 g before you hit the gym.
The consensus in bodybuilding circles is to eat low-glycemic carbs preworkout instead of high-glycemic
choices that could lead to a sudden drop in blood sugar. Except for postworkout, we generally recommend
sticking with complex carbs regardless of placement on the glycemic index. Good choices include
oatmeal, rice or potatoes.
If your energy dips during your workouts or you have to push through fatigue to even get to the gym,
you may want to increase your preworkout carbs. (You may also need to eat more carbohydrates in general.
Why include protein in your preworkout meal? It actually has more to do with providing a steady
supply of amino acids than a specific effect performance. Nutrition for Bodybuilders 101 would
recommend eating protein every few hours, for a total of a gram including protein in your preworkout
minimeal. Shoot for 20 to 30 g, or slightly more if your protein needs are very high.
This isn't a good time for a sirloin steak, however, as processing all that protein takes time and may
result in sluggishness at the gym.
Bodybuilding diets are generally low in fat, and that same principle should guide your preworkout
We recommend eating one to two hours before training. If you eat too much food too close to your
workout, you may suffer from cramps, feel sluggish or suffer impaired performance because some of your
body's resources are going toward digestion instead of power and recovery.
If you train in the morning, you'll probably have a better workout if you can get some carbs in before
hitting the gym. Pro bodybuilders usually eat about 20 egg whites and up to one cup of oatmeal at 6 AM,
then do their weight-training routine at 7 AM.
Don't forget to drink water before and during your workout. If you're dehydrated, even the perfect
preworkout meal won't prevent less than optimal performance.