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What should you eat before strength training? Fitness trainers answer your most Googled questions

What should you eat before strength training? Stylist Strong trainers answer the most Googled strength and fitness questions. 

We all know that eating directly before swimming isn’t advisable. Whether that’s because we’re more likely to sink (an unlikely reason which was bizarrely believable when we were younger), or the more likely reason of causing a tummy-ache, it’s a pretty die-hard rule. But is it the same for strength training?

Like so much of the information about strength training out there, the internet provides contradictory guidance about the effects of eating before working out. Some sources swear by training fasted, whilst others advise carb-loading for a more effective sweaty session.

Each week three trainers from Stylist Strong, Stylist’s fitness brand that runs strength training classes focused on incorporating weights into fitness, explain some of the most asked questions from women who want to get into lifting.

This week they’re debunking myths about how best to fuel up around your strength training session. 

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What should you eat before strength training? 

TESS GLYNN-JONES, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“Everyone’s very different with this. If you eat before you train, that should involve carbs and protein, something like chicken, rice and vegetables. Or a great little meal you can have before you train is overnight oats - just soak some oats for carbs in some milk, or almond or coconut milk, and then you top it with some Greek yoghurt to get your protein in as well. And then just add some fruit and some honey on there.”

ALICE MILLER, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“It largely depends on the time of day that you train. I always prefer to have carbohydrates; that’s a great source of energy to fuel weight training sessions. If I’m training in the morning, I’ll have something light; you’re probably still fueled from the night before, so you can grab a banana for fast carbohydrates. If you’re training at lunchtime, you might not haven’t eaten much that day, so a carbohydrate-rich snack is good, something that gives you energy straight away. My favourite food for that is mango, but some of my colleagues have things like rice cakes and jam.”

CAROLINE BRAGG, MASTER TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“If I’m having a meal, I like eggs on toast and things like that which are easy to do. A low GI meal will release a lot slower, or for a snack opt for something that’s quick to digest. And then after training, we want to up the protein, which helps repair the muscles. We need to make sure our nutrition is right and that were replenishing properly. I think lots of people don’t do that. And I always have a coffee before training!”

Should you eat breakfast before training?

TESS GLYNN-JONES, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“If that works for you, then great. It might be worth experimenting, having some food before you train and seeing if it gives you that bit of extra energy to help you push you through. Even if you just had a banana en route to the gym, that’s going give you those fast carbs to help you during your session. But training fasted is not a bad thing. It’s quite controversial – some people love it; some people hate it. But it’s just about having a play. As long as you’re not starving yourself and you’re not feeling weaker by training fasted, you’re cool.” 

ALICE MILLER, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“Fasted is okay if that’s what you’re used to. If you’re happy to train without food and you don’t feel tired or lethargic when you go to a training session, you don’t need to. It all comes down to how your body works and if you’re used to eating. I find that people who read things on the internet think ‘oh, I have to have a banana because that article says it’. But I just want people to know that if you don’t want to, you don’t have to have it. So only have the energy if you feel you need it. It goes back to listening to your body.” 

CAROLINE BRAGG, MASTER TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“Fasted training works for some people, but I would say that would depend on many variables, like your quality of sleep and where you are in your menstrual cycle. I would always say for weight training I would probably recommend having something, even if it’s just half a banana. I don’t disagree with fasted training, but it does depend on your blood sugar levels and it’s really about what works for you.”

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How long before training should you eat?

TESS GLYNN-JONES, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“You don’t want to eat too much too close to training. Eat a meal about 90 minutes beforehand. When it comes to having a snack something like 30-45 minutes before, and have fast carbs, where the sugar will get into your bloodstream quickly. Things like fruit, bananas, a Lucozade, anything like that would be good to have before you train.”

ALICE MILLER, TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“I always say make sure not to have a meal too close to going to the gym, because some people can feel sick. I’d always suggest at least 30 minutes before.”

CAROLINE BRAGG, MASTER TRAINER AT STYLIST STRONG

“I would suggest that if you’re having a meal, maybe have it 60-90 minutes before, and have something with a lot of carbohydrates and a form of protein.”

READY TO START WEIGHT TRAINING?

Stylist Strong is a fitness brand specialising in strength training specifically tailored for women. Our classes are designed to build both physical and mental strength in a smart and informed way.

So, whether you’re a beginner or already have strength-training experience, Stylist Strong has a class to suit you. Come and try our strength-based classes at our own purpose-built studio at The AllBright Mayfair.

Image: Getty

Additional reporting: Hannah Connolly

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