Carbohydrates prior to exercise are particularly important to top up blood glucose levels and glycogen stores in both muscles and the liver so that there is energy available for use during exercise (AIS Sport Nutrition, 2014). Meals should be made up of carbohydrates and low in fat and moderate in fibre so that it is easy to digest and the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort is minimised. Low GI carbohydrates have been thought to provide a slow release of energy assisting fuel for longer training sessions however, some low GI foods may cause discomforts such as lentils, multigrain bread and porridge. Timing Meal is relevant to ensure it’s fully digested and absorbed prior to training.
Depending on when training is pre-workout meals can be consumed 3-4 hours before exercise, a light snack 1-2 hours before exercise, or smaller snacks less than 1 hour prior to exercise (AIS Sport Nutrition, 2014). If possible, a source of calcium is recommended at this time as this will provide the calcium required for smooth muscle contraction and nerve function during training (Fink, Mikesky & Burgoon, 2012).
Endurance training pre-workout nutrition
Meals 3-4 hours prior to exercise:
- Baked potato, cottage cheese filling and a glass of milk
- Breakfast cereal with milk
- Fruit salad with fruit flavoured yoghurt
- Pasta or rice with a sauce made from vegetables (tomato etc.) and/or lean meat
Light snacks 1-2 hour’s prior to exercise:
- Liquid meal supplement
- Homemade milkshake or fruit smoothie
- Carbohydrate-rich sports bars (low-fat content)
- Breakfast cereal with milk
- Cereal bars
- Fruit flavoured yoghurt
Light snacks less than 1 hour prior to exercise:
- Sports drinks
- Carbohydrate gel
- Sports bars
- Jelly lollies (AIS Sports Nutrition, 2009b)
To support hydration, immediately before exercise 200-600ml of fluid should be consumed as it is likely this amount if not more will be lost during the training session. As well as pre-event meals, nutrition consumption during training sessions will assist in maintaining fuel levels (AIS Sport Nutrition, 2014; AIS Sport Nutrition, 2009c).
AIS Sport Nutrition. (2009b). Eating Before Exercise. Australian Government: Department of Sports Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/sports_nutrition/fact_sheets/eating_before_exercise
AIS Sport Nutrition. (2009c). Fluid – who needs it. Australian Government: Department of Sports Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/sports_nutrition/fact_sheets/fluid_-_who_needs_it
AIS Sport Nutrition. (2014). Carbohydrate – how much. Australian Government: Department of Sports Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/fact_sheets/carbohydrate_how_much
Fink, H., Mikesky, A. and Burgoon, L. (2012).Practical Applications In Sport Nutrition (3rd Ed.). Jones & Bartlett Publishers.