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Pre-Workout Nutrition – How to Shop for It

By Jiri Kaloc

Correct pre-workout nutrition gives you enough energy, helps with recovery, and might even boost your performance. But you need to know what foods and supplements to choose. Here are a few tips and tricks for when you go shopping.

Start with your regular diet

As I explained in the previous article, for most of us pre-workout nutrition means having a good nutritious meal about 2 – 3 hours before an activity. Try to shop at farmer’s markets because that’s where you’ll find fresh local produce. But regardless of where you buy it, make sure you choose the right carbs, protein, and fat sources. Here are some good options your shopping list should contain – something from each category.

Slow carbs – oats, wholegrain bread, potatoes, brown rice
Fast carbs – berries, Bananas, or any seasonal whole fruits
Quality protein – eggs, fish, poultry, greek yoghurt
Healthy fats – avocados, nuts, seeds

Choose the right supplements

If you want to take your pre-workout nutrition to the next level, you might have to think about supplements too. There are too many to cover in one article so let’s look at three that have a pretty good amount of evidence behind them so we can safely say they work. But remember when choosing supplements, it’s important to read the labels. You want a product that has only the effective ingredients and no fillers.


It’s probably the most popular performance-enhancing supplement on the planet. It’s been shown to increase strength and power, help reduce feelings of fatigue and stimulate fat burning. Recent studies have shown that you need 3 mg of caffeine per 1 kg of body weight to get the desired benefits. For the average person, that’s a double-shot espresso! Ideally, consume it 90 minutes before your training session but the effects will start appearing 15 minutes after ingestion.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

BCAAs are essential amino acids valine, leucine, and isoleucine and studies show that if you take them before exercise they help decrease muscle damage and increase muscle synthesis. An effective dose is 5 g or more at least 1 hour before activity.


Beta-alanine is an amino acid that’s been shown to increase exercise capacity and muscle endurance and reduce fatigue. It’s most effective for short and high-intensity exercises. The recommended dose is 2–5 grams daily but you should consume at least 0,5 grams before a workout.

Next up in Pre-Workout Nutrition series