Warning: Reading This Will Improve Your Strength Training ASAP

There is a lot floating around the blog-o-sphere regarding fuel, aka food, before and after runs but what about strength training?

Does it not deserve a conscious effort to help make us stronger, leaner, better?

I thought so too.

Aside from post workout protein shakes, how should you fuel your body to handle the strain put on by lifting weights?

I remember when the whole weight lifting world was foreign to me. The clothes (soffe shirts and oversized t-shirts aren’t ideal I later learned), the equipment, and the reaction it had on my body.

I had no idea if what I was doing was right, I just crossed my fingers and prayed I was moving in the right direction.

That was 10 years ago, now I no longer have to cross my fingers. Studying and experimenting have allowed me to know a thing or two about this whole lifting weights thing, especially for women!

I really have to give thanks to my first (and only) figure show for helping me learn the most in the fastest amount of time.

Fueling For Weights

Have you ever gone into your strength workout, knowing you’re well rested, yet you just don’t have the juice to accomplish what you know you can? A dumbbell you were practically tossing around last week now feels as if the ground won’t let go of it.

Let’s call it the “Weight Lifter’s Bonk”. Like a runner, we hit the wall. We can’t do another rep even though we know damn well that we should.

Ever been there? I have!

Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again.

You need two things to have a strong workout (pun intended).

–> Carbs (Sugars)
–> Protein

Why not fat? We will get there in a quick second.

Don’t Skip Out On Eating


When it comes to fueling for a workout, you want energy! Those people that say it’s a great idea to workout on an empty stomach… I can’t agree with them.

They” say that by working out on an empty stomach your body will use fat for fuel. I say, workout on an empty stomach, you’ll last only 15 minutes before you feel tired, cranky, and over it.

Just like a car needs gas in the tank, you do as well.

That doesn’t mean you have to eat right before, for some early morning risers, eating a pre-workout meal right before bed can still provide energy in the morning.

This has happened to me on more than on occasion and it sucks!

Eat Simply Carbs

Yes, part of why I workout hard is so I have a decent excuse to eat bread.

Carbs are the fastest of the macro-nutrients to break down and provide energy. They will give you that initial jolt to get you going.

Foods like fruit (bananas are great); sprouted bread, dates, juice, oatmeal… just a few.

One serving is plenty! If you’re working out for a long time, make sure that you’re eating some carb snack every hour or so. Personally, jelly beans are my favorite for workout snacks.

Eat Your Protein

Vega – One of my favorite vegan proteins!

When you’re working your muscles hard, they are going to open their front doors to protein.

Protein is going to help muscles recover, build, and get stronger!

Before a workout, it’s best to go with a protein that is light on the stomach (no steaks) and easy to digest like yogurt, protein powder, and eggs.

Keep in mind that the body can only absorb so much protein at a time, so there isn’t any need to get carried away. A perfect dose of protein is around 18 grams.

If you have a great protein snack right before grabbing your kettlebell, then there really isn’t much need for a post workout snack. BUT, if you didn’t pre-load up, then getting a high dose of protein within 30 minutes of finishing your workout is ideal.

It should be easy to digest and to absorb. This is where the benefits of protein shakes come in. The body barely has to do any work to get them through the digestive tract.

Fast food for the muscles!

Avoid The Fatty Stuff

Now, normally I am all about getting in tons of healthy fats each day. But not right before or right after a workout when you want your body to absorb as many nutrients as fast as possible…

Fat slows protein digestion which is great for keeping you full but not great when you’re trying to fuel your muscles.

What are some examples?

Nut butters & Nuts



Fish (salmon, sardines)


My Favorite Workout Fuels

Protein shakes:  SunWarrior, Basic Greens, Almond Milk, Ginger (great for inflammation), and 1/2 Banana. Delicious!

Hard boiled eggs

Coconut Milk Yogurt With Granola

Pink Lady Apples

Protein Pancakes

What about you… do you eat before a workout? What? 


  • well said friend! keep it simple and satisfying! love that vega

    • Sometimes simple is better!! Most of the time!

  • sadly for me so much is time.
    these days I tend to grab fruit and hard boiled eggs and go go go.

    • That’s what mine was yesterday!

  • It depends. Usually I eat banana or a pop tart. I don’t know what it is about a pop tart, but it’s all sugar and it doesn’t bother my stomach. Plus it’s 200 calories. It’s hard for me to eat 200 calories in oatmeal and not wind up with stomach cramps. With that said, I do not advocate for ordinary people who aren’t going out and running 7-8 miles at a time to eat this way before a run! I really like those Nature’s Path ones at Earth Fare…

    Sometimes I will run before breakfast on just coffee (usually these are my Tuesday track workouts, actually!) because it’s super early. It’s really hard to bring myself to eat anything at 5-6 AM.

    I agree with you on fat! I eat my share of healthy fats (PB anyone?), but they do make me feel a bit weighed down during a run because it takes longer to digest.

    Also, thanks so much for not trying to sell us on a particular powder, shake, or “pre-workout supplement”. It kinda bugs me to see people down all these pills or some “Special Drink” before a workout. Supplements like iron, calcium, etc are cool, but there really is no magic pill or potion. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person not doing a pre, intra, and post workout “drink”…

    • Bananas are one of my go toe for running too! Poptarts… oh i miss those!

  • great info!! Love me some vega… and plant fusion! Makes such creamy smoothies!

    • Plant fusion is delicious!

  • we love coconut oil before workouts 🙂

    • I love coconut oil all the time! lol

  • Took this advice today and made a post-workout breakfast that focused more on carbs and protein, then had fats later in the day, instead of my usual oatmeal with nut butters in the morning. Planning on giving that a whirl for a week or so and see how I feel 🙂

  • Before a run I like bananas and rice cakes but I do use a smear of PB. But lifting is different and I usually have something like a thinkthin bar or something along those lines, something higher on the protein side of the scale, probably not high enough carbs though.

    • I used to eat ThinkThin bars! Yum. I am with you on the pre-running fuel!

  • Having the right foods as part of your strength routine adds to the massive challenge of figuring out to find something that works for you. I find this whole strength training aspect of running very experimental to figure out, and that’s what’s so challenging about it.

    The food aspect is one more important thing to think about!

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