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Pre-Workout Nutrition

Ensuring your nutrition is spot on is essential to maximising your results in the gym or in competition. Many people often obsess over their post workout nutrition and give little consideration to what they are eating before a workout. The truth is that pre-workout nutrition is equally as important, as it will fuel you mentally and physically for the challenges ahead. Eating the right meal one or two hours before a workout, or consuming the right supplement pre workout, can be the difference between lifting those extra couple of reps, or running that extra mile.

Here is a quick-fire summary of pre-workout nutrition, starting with the very basics:


Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy and fuel human movement, growth, metabolism and other bodily functions.These are proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and they all have an important role to play in pre-workout nutrition.


Understanding the components to a nutritious pre-workout meal is fundamental. A meal should typically consist of moderate to low GI (complex) carbohydrates. Foods such as brown rice, wheat pasta or oatmeal provide a great source of energy which will release a steady amount of energy throughout the duration of your workout. Consume a meal one or two hours prior to a workout to ensure that your blood sugar levels are up and glycogen levels are full (energy stores in skeletal muscle, readily available). Most people can benefit from around 40g of carbs before intense exercise.

High GI carbohydrates such as sugar can cause a spike in blood glucose that can lead to a fall in blood sugar levels during a workout. This can dramatically reduce energy levels and should generally be avoided (dependent on your type and duration of your training).


To promote an anabolic state (muscle building) and to prevent the body from falling into a catabolic state (muscle wastage) during exercise, the body requires protein. Research indicates that consuming BCAA supplements (usually in tablet form) or a Whey Protein shake will produce better results than any other form of protein because of its abundance of amino acids.

The primary source of energy for the body comes from carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. Often the body will run out of carbohydrate fuel during long or intense exercise, and will switch to another energy source. With long duration, low intensity exercise such as walking or long distance running, the body can turn to its fat supplies for energy. With more intense exercise such as weight lifting or sprinting, the body will require a faster release of energy.

Amino acids are broken down and converted into glucose in a process called Gluconeogenesis. If amino acids aren't already available in the bloodstream, the body will turn to catabolic state, breaking down skeletal muscle for energy.

Essential Fatty Acids

EFAs are important for maintaining high levels of testosterone during exercise. This is important for maintaining better levels of intensity and for increased protein synthesis (muscle growth).


Glutamine plays an important role in healthy immune system function. As glutamine stores are depleted during exercise, the ability for the body to repair damaged tissue is compromised. Those who engage in strenuous exercise and have experienced severe DOMS (muscle soreness) from overtraining, glutamine supplements can be taken to ease soreness and promote muscle repair.

Stamina and Endurance

Strength Boosters

Creatine Monohydrate

Probably the most popular strength booster on the market. There are many forms of creatine, but monohydrate remains the most popular choice for those with strength and hypertrophy goals. Creatine monohydrate is also one of the most tried and tested products on the market, with extensive research to support it benefits.

The body utilises three methods of developing energy, called energy pathways. ATP is utilised for high bursts of activity that last for less than 30 seconds. For exercise such as weight lifting or sprinting, the body accesses its creatine phosphate stores to access the energy pathway ATP. Supplementing with creatine will increase the availability of creatine for energy conversion. This can result in endurance gains when lifting heavier weight and more efficient power output when playing sport.

Because creatine draws more water to the muscles, it can leave you with a denser, fuller look, therefore bodybuilders often take it for aesthetic reasons. Typically, 2-5 grams of creatine can be taken a day to experience the best effects.

Beta Alanine

Like Creatine, Beta Alanine helps to increase muscular endurance and energy. When the body engages in heavy exercise and accesses the ATP energy pathway, a metabolic byproduct is produced, in the form of hydrogen ions. These hydrogen ions can result in an increase of lactic acid (which causes muscle fatigue). 4-5 grams of Beta Alanine can help to buffer these hydrogen ions to enhance endurance.

Energy Boosters


Tyrosine acts as a precursor for various hormones and neurotransmitters including dopamine, dihydroxyphenyalanine (DOPA), norepinephrine and epinephrine. Tyrosine is thought to improve alertness and enhance cognitive performance. Like other stimulants such as Taurine, Tyrosine can improve exercise intensity.


Studies have shown that caffeine can have a positive effect on low intensity-long duration exercise endurance and also high intensity activity. Notably, studies suggest that caffeine can slow the rate in which the body consumes its glycogen stores (energy stored in muscles), leading to increased stamina. Popular forms of caffeine supplementation include caffeine tablets, usually taken from guarana, or green tea extract.

Fat Burners (Thermogenics)

Many branded fat burners include green tea extract as its primary weight loss agent because of its positive effects on fat loss.

Green tea extract is rich in epigallocatechin gallate which promotes more epinephrine, a substance involved in the process of metabolising fat stores (fat burning). Studies have shown that green tea can activate the body's ability to prolong thermogenesis (the process of heat production), but can also boost the bodies energy levels.


L-Carnitine is a substance that helps the body turn fat into energy. Naturally it is produced in the kidneys and is stored at the point of the muscles. Because of its fat loss properties it is a popular choice for those looking to lose weight.

Multivitamins and Minerals

A multivitamin is not usually directly associated with exercise supplementation, but it can help to maintain proper bodily function which is important for everyday activities and for the purpose of exercise. Multivitamins contain many vitamins and minerals, such as zinc that can help with a positive release of muscle building hormones. Multivitamins also contain vitamin b which is important during exercise as it contain anabolic properties.

Nitric Oxide and Muscle Pump Supplements


NO2 (Nitric Oxide) is popular with bodybuilders because of its ability to open up blood vessels so more oxygen can be delivered to the muscles. This increased blood flow means that more nutrients can be transported to the muscle, causing a greater myofascial stretch in muscle membranes that will lead to long term muscular gains.


L-Arginine is an amino acid that is naturally stored in the body. Essentially it is converted into nitric oxide resulting in greater blood flow. However the human body can also benefit from L-arginine supplementation as it also carried various anabolic qualities, such as promoting the release of the growth hormone, HGH.


L-Citrulline is an amino acid that is converted into Arginine. Studies have suggested that supplementation with L-Citrulline can lead to a higher increase in levels of Arginine in the bloodstream than taking L-Arginine directly.


Your pre-workout nutrition and supplementation needs will vary depending on your fitness goals, or the sport(s) you compete in. Popular pre-workout supplements include Jack3d Micro, which includes ingredients such as L-Citrulline, Arginine Nitrate, Arginine Sulfate, Caffeine and Vitamin C. Why not consider adding a pre-workout supplement to your training to benefit from improved performance?

Author Bio:

Terry Arena is a beast of a man. Some say he was born with a beard. He enjoys learning about sports nutrition, and varying forms of metabolic conditioning. He eats meat at least 6 times daily and has a dog named Beefy.

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