Fueling for Your Workout

Whether you’re a beginner or expert in the gym, proper nutrition can be one of the biggest barriers to progress. With so much information out there, it can be exhausting to try to find the best way to fuel yourself. Before even thinking about nutrient timing, I always recommend ensuring your are taking in an overall balanced, high quality diet first and worry about timing second. Focus on adequate intake first and timing second.

While it is important to remember that every person has different needs and no one method of eating will work for everyone, keep reading for some simple tips to get you started on your path to fitness success!



Goal: top of the stores to provide optimal energy for training! Pre-training nutrition is topping off your gas tank before a long trip.


Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel for activity and are necessary prior to training. One should try to consume 1-4g/kg of carbs 1-4 hours before exercise.

Simple vs Complex?

Simple carbs include white breads, potatoes, white pastas, fruit, or sweets. The foods are digested rapidly and cause a quick increase in blood glucose. Simple carbs should be eaten about 30 minutes prior to activity for quick source of energy.

Complex carbs include whole grains, brown rice, oats, quinoa. These foods are often high in fiber and  are digested at a slower rate and cause a more steady increase in energy over time. Complex carbs should be eaten an hour or more before training to allow time to digest and avoid GI distress from the increased fiber.


While protein is an important macronutrient for muscle growth, there is no major benefit seen to consuming high protein before exercise. Protein may, however, be beneficial in increasing  satiety and keep you from getting hungry during training.


Fat should be limited in the hour prior to exercise due to slow digestion and increased risk of GI discomfort.


During Training:

Fuel during training is not necessary for activity lasting less than 90 minutes. Using the gas tank analogy, you do not always need to stop for fuel on a road trip unless the distance requires it. More often than not, topping off the stores beforehand will give the fuel needed to complete your trip.  If you do plan on intense, long duration exercise, you may want to consider consuming 30-60g of carbohydrates per hour to keep up energy levels during training.

Snack ideas during training may include energy gels, fresh fruit, granola bar, or sports drink.



Your gas tank is pretty empty at this point and you need to replenish your fuel stores and repair the wear and tear caused by the trip. In the human body, this requires protein and carbohydrates. During training, muscles breakdown and become depleted of glucose. Be sure to refuel with a balanced meal of 15-25 grams of protein and at least 20-25 grams of carbohydrates to replenish your stores within 2 hours of training.


Sample Training Day


Meal Approximate Carbs Approximate Protein

(1 hour before)

Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread 70 10
During (if needed) 1 medium apple 25 0
Post-training 1 cup whole wheat pasta

3 oz grilled chicken, ½ marinara sauce

¼ cup mozzarella cheese

42 28


Now it’s your turn to try! Post your training day meals and tag @peoriariverplex on Instagram or RiverPlex on Facebook!

author: Angela Bland