Consuming food prior to a training session is essential. This meal is often over looked due to people training early mornings, having a busy schedule or a fear of feeling sick or full during a session. 

The main priority to eating before training is to provide the body with adequate fuel to perform. A common misconception is that this only relates to athletes and not the general public participating in their own forms of training and exercise. However, it is just as important for everyone to fuel adequately for the training session ahead. 

The type of food consumed pre-training is dependent on a number of factors. Some of these include the type of training, the duration and the intensity of training that will be undertaken. However, the principles are all similar. Carbohydrates are the bodies preferred fuel source for moderate to high intensity exercise. Carbohydrates are essential to providing the muscles with adequate fuel to complete training. The pre-training meal should be low in fat. Fat can take longer for the body to digest and is known to cause stomach upset or gastrointestinal issue if it is consumed close to exercise. A moderate amount of protein is also beneficial to include pre-training to help prevent hunger. 

A common concern that people have when eating prior to training, is the fear of feeling sick or full and therefore having a negative impact on their session. Appropriate planning and timing of this meal can prevent this from occurring. The pre-training meal should be approximately 3-4 hours prior to the start of training. Timing is dependent on the individual and it should be experimented with until the preferred timing is discovered. 


Examples of this meal could include:

  • Baked beans or canned spaghetti on toast 
  • Tomato based pasta dish 
  • Meat and salad roll or wrap 
  • Yoghurt with berries and muesli 
  • Breakfast cereal with low fat milk and fruit 
  • Fruit toast with jam or honey 

Sometimes having a meal 3-4 hours prior to training, especially when training early in the morning, is not possible. In these cases, having something is better than having nothing. A snack can be consumed an hour prior to the start of training. 


Examples of snacks include:

  • White bread with jam or banana and honey 
  • Muesli bar 
  • Banana 
  • Handful of rice crackers 
  • Handful of pretzels 

It is important for pre-training or competition meals to be trialled, planned and prepared. A Sports Dietitian can help with creating a plan to help individuals achieve their training or competition goals. 


Do I need to eat during training? 

Eating during training is very dependent on the duration of the training session. Generally anything under 60 minutes shouldn’t require any additional fuel for energy. After 60 minutes is when we would need to start replacing some of the used energy with additional carbohydrates. Foods can include sports drink, lollies, energy gels or bars and many other options. The amount of carbohydrates required is very specific to the individual, training intensity and duration. Tailored plans can be designed by a Sports Dietitian to suit the individual and their training requirements.


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