T Nation

Timing Nutrition Around Workouts


Today my plan was to eat lunch, work for an hour, to let it settle, then go to the gym. I kinda screwed up my lunch was too small, and I was hungry. So I ended up mixing up a bigger pre workout drink than i normally would (a variety of sugars of varying complexity and simple easy to digest proteins). This often works out- but today it left me feeling bloated/slow.

What amount of time do you leave between eating and lifting?
what do you do if you’re planning on going to the gym soon- but you don’t have the energy?

One of those sugars wouldn’t happen to be maltodextrine perhaps? Too much of that makes me feel the same way.

Depends on the size of the meal. 30 minutes to 2 hours. Sometimes I just eat and go.

Depends. Are you training, or are you exercising? If its the former, as a general rule, personally I’d end up going anyway. Maybe skew the workout days and do it the next day in extreme cases. It’s really hard for anyone else to guide you as the meaning of not having energy is nebulous. Some people express that sentiment multiple times per week, these people should maybe just go barring something clinical as the underlying cause.

Some people use that turn of phrase once upon a blue moon and it might behove them to listen to that feeling and take a break.

So, what kind of person are you? And what impact would either course of action have in relation to your goals?

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5 minutes sometimes. Depends on how fast I can eat. I had my pre-workout meal yesterday while changing into my workout clothes.

Usually just a few minutes. More often than not my pre-workout meal is just a granola bar. I train in the afternoon so I’ve already gotten 2-3 meals in at that point. I get the burps if I’m too full when I workout so I don’t like much more than that freshly in the stomach.

Go anyway.


the shake was 60 grams of whey protein, some fruit (probably an apple, a bannana and some cherries- i cant remember) so a decent amount of frucctose, some brown sugar, and some kefir.

Thinking about it- that was probably too much protein/not enough energy. I very occasionally have lactose problems so maybe that was the issue.

this is a very good question for life. Hypothetically I am training for gymnastics (rings)/generic bodybuilding goals, but it often feels like excercise instead of training.

I push myself hard, but around once a month I’ll work too hard and not plan a meal properly and end up running out of energy. In years past I would just buy a coke and drink it at the gym, but since they’ve reduced the sugar in their formula its gone from an easy way to get a good number of kcal to fairly useless.

With lockdown (i’m in the UK) I have no time frame on my goals/competitions on my mind. That being said I want to master what i am working on ASAP/ and be as big/ripped as I reasonably can be.

As a result missing the gym once is less of a big deal. But i don’t want to be the kind of person who doesn’t work out because they fail to manage their energy levels.

This is good. Maybe the issue is that i should have been trying to get inenough spare calories for working out from the moment I woke up

hahahaha waht did you eat?
imagines a big plate of beans

This seems diametrically opposed

Why would you imagine a big plate of beans?

I had a Finibar.

Meme response

Voxel: You can’t get big or lean if you swing around on your hands

Gorillas reading the thread:

serious response:

In weightlifting/powerlifting/bodybuilding the biggest movements use the hips as the primary hinge – squats/deadlift/clean/snatch/jerk etc, so a lot of programs use big movements to build muscle around that joint, and then use smaller movements for the other joints (bench/military press/pullup/ bicep curl etc) – but then because these movements move the joint in quite a restricted way you have to do tons of variations and different exercises to get even muscle growth around the joint and work to build the muscle that supports those joints in those movements e.g. facepulls/rotator cuff work.

In rings gymnastics the primary hinge is the shoulder joint. This means the biggest movements, straight arm pull up/muscle up/iron cross/Maltese cross/planch etc all put their primary loads on the big muscle groups that attach around the shoulders (chest/back/shoulders) and secondary loads on the muscles that support them (e.g. rotator cuffs).

You definitely get a lot of small people doing gymnastics at a high level, but that’s because shorter levers are an even bigger deal for iron cross work than they are for squats. That being said, my shoulder health and max bench press dramatically improved when I started training front lever as well.

In my mind the value of doing movements that like deadlift or squat incorporate the vast majority of muscle in the human body, but put the emphasis on the shoulder joint rather than the hip joint is huge. To link back to the gorilla- the musculoskeletal structure of their shoulders/ chest/ arms/ upper back is identical to the equivalent structure in humans, part of the reason that they look so much more developed around those joints is that they swing around using their hands.

It was a humourous image, and a dumb way of asking what you ate. Understanding what other people feel fine about eating right before the gym is a good step towards finding something that will work for me.

Asking that question would have gotten you a more helpful answer I imagine.

I’m comfortable eating most anything before training. I’ve competed in strongman events after having just polished off some Costco Pizza, pop tarts, chocolate donuts, kids breakfast cereal, energy drinks, PBJs, protein bars, BBQ, etc. Also trained off traditional breakfast foods, girlscout cookies, muffins, chinese food, etc etc.

Being able to time meals/what you eat before training is for people that have the luxury of an abundant amount of free time.

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On t nation I find it hard to know when to be serious/ or when to do the internet behaviours of make everything a meme/ engage in random flamewars.

Part of what makes it a good place is its very different to everywhere else, but its definately a weird atmosphere.

Anyway thanks for the thoughts on what you eat before training/competeing.

I would say, as a rule of thumb, if you want info: ask your actual question. If you’ve received/ contributed as much as you intend, feel free to say ridiculous stuff.

I think the only two “sins”:

  1. Giving specific advice when you don’t know what you’re talking about
  2. Asking for advice and then finding a billion reasons it won’t work for you

Eat first thing when you wake up. Eat right before you go to bed. Spread another 3 meals in there throughout the day. That’s it. Just keep a consistent source of food in your body and you’ll be fine. All the other details are just bro science advice. Now some things may in fact be true, but they have such a minor impact it’s hardly worth the time thinking about.

Currently about 45 hours - because I’m doing alternate day fasting! :scream:

More important to eat at regular intervals than to eat around working out. I eat at 7,11,3,7,10.

While I won’t say there is no benefit to eating at a certain time before or after a workout. The actual effect is at such an insanely small scale that it’s not worth noting.

Do you think that if you eat the same meals throughout day one as day two, but on day two you ate one of the meals an hour earlier it would have an impact? Just a thought.