A previous post outlined inadequate pre-workout nutrition as a possible cause for nausea and feelings of discomfort and weakness during intense cardio workouts. I thought it would be helpful to suggest a more comprehensive list of appropriate (and inappropriate) foods to be eaten before you start exercising, which provide your body with the necessary fuel to complete the workout.

1. Bananas. The wonder of these fruits cannot be over-stressed. Not only are they Nature’s “Lunchbar”, providing you with readily available carbohydrates to fuel your exercising muscles, but they also contain high levels of potassium. This essential nutrient cannot be stored for long periods of time in the body, and is often lost in sweat. A chopped banana with some yoghurt 30 minutes before your workout is the perfect combination to keep you going.

2. Oats. A rich source of protein and low-GI carbohydrates. The presence of large amounts of fiber ensures even and consistent release of energy. Additionally, oats are filled with B-vitamins and are naturally fat and cholesterol free. Have a steaming cup of oats 30-35 mins before you start exercising. Add some crumbed feta for a unique take, and some extra protein and calcium.

3. Wholewheat bread. A dense source of high-quality, complex carbs. Like oats, the slow-energy release will keep you going for longer. Top with a thin layer of peanut butter and jam for an a burst of energy, or enjoy with a sliced boiled egg and some hummus spread for a dose of high quality protein. Aim for a slice about 40 minutes before gym.

4. Whey protein. A favourite of mine: 2 scoops of whey; 2 spoons of Nescafe instant coffee; some milk, and the remainder water. Also, drip some honey in and shake. Whey protein possesses amongst the highest quality of protein available to us, while the other ingredients will contribute synergistically to a powerful workout. Give your digestive system about 30 minutes to absorb the shake.

1. Fatty food: leaves the stomach slowly and doesn’t provide immediately usable energy. This will leave you feeling sluggish, and more prone to cramping.

2. The emphasis above has been placed on the importance of obtaining lots of carbohydrates for your workout. The source of these however, should not be from simple sugars. To avoid a mid-workout crash, steer clear of sweets and chocolates before your workout.

3. Don’t overdo it. These are snack ideas, not meal ideas. Eating an excessive amount before your workout can have the very effect you’re aiming to avoid: sluggishness, nausea, vomiting or lack of performance.

Good luck. And don’t skip on food before you hit the gym!


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