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By Kim Madsen, Registered Dietitian

Nutrition Before Exercise

The goal of pre-exercise nutrition is to ensure your muscles are topped off with stores and to aid recovery by supporting the building and repair of muscle. If you experience pre-competition jitters, liquid meal replacements may be better tolerated than whole foods. You also want to choose pre-exercise meals that are low in fat and fiber for optimal digestion. 

What should I eat? 

3-4 hours prior

  • Peanut butter and honey on Toast+ instant breakfast drink
  • Fruit and yogurt smoothie + low fat granola
  • Oatmeal with brown sugar and almonds +skim milk + banana
  • Low-fat cottage cheese + apple butter+ crackers+ fresh grapes
  • Lean hamburger on a bun with lettuce & tomato + side salad + yogurt and fruit parfait
  • Turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich+ fruit+ sports drink
  • Low-fat tuna melt sandwich + fruit cup + fat-free yogurt

30-60 minutes before exercise

  • Piece of fruit or jam sandwich.
  • Sports drink or water
  • Sports gel, sport beans or gummies, sports bar 


  1. Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN) Nutrition Fact Sheet Issue 3/April 2009
  2. Clark, Nancy, MS RD Sports Nutrition Guidebook; 3rd edition


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