Eating before a workout - Optimal Time

Heard the guys talk about eating well in advance of a workout, possibly 3 hours prior…

I find that I’m OK to eat say 30 mins prior and still get through the workouts e.g. no stomach issues, but would I feel better fueled / stronger if I waited longer? For example, 30 mins might be acceptable but not optimal?

I always leave 3 hours if it is a hard session to give me time to digest and some sugar to reach my muscles. Having said that on a group ride I have a big bowl of porridge and just head out the door but then again we don’t start hammering on those rides until we’ve been out for an hour to chat and warm up!

I’d be interested in reading replies. I sometimes eat as little as 45 mins before a 1hr workout and always feel fine. But i wonder how optimal this is

Depends on what i eat, but most of the time i need to wait three hours before training. Also depends what i do after eating, do i sit/lie on the sofa or go for walk or just be active. Being inactive slows down my digestion so…

Do what works for you. If you don’t know, test.

Depends on intensity, if it was Pettit it would be fine, if it was Spencer+2 er…not :face_vomiting:


One or two slices of toast with jam (jelly) 1 hour before a tough session does me well.

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If I eat 3 hours before a race I get hungry about 30 minutes before start. When I eat an hour or less before start then I feel ok.

I find 2-3 hours is a safe bet, but depends on food. In fact if I start feeling hungry, I take it as a good sign. For me it seems that the fattier the food, longer it takes and more it effects how I feel on the bike. Some oats porridge half an hour before works for me. But take salami or cheese and it will sit there for a good while.

That’s my point. I feel fine (stomach etc) but would RPE be lower if I left it say 2/3 hours?

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It’s really as much about what you eat as when you eat it. You don’t want a big bowl of pasta half an hour before a workout, and you don’t want like an energy bar three hours before.

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Couple people have said it but it’s pretty individual I think. Do some testing and see what works for you.

For me, If it’s high intensity, I do those later in the afternoon say 5:30 or so and I’ll take a late lunch, something pretty high carb. around 1:30. If it’s a long, less intense ride, I’ll usually eat about 30 minutes before and still feel great. Really more specifically it’s the heat of the room I’m in that can cause more stomach distress. If it gets too hot, I’m way more likely to get stomach distress regardless of what I ate or how long it’s been.

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I will eat 2-3 hours before I head out the door as I like my food to digest before working out. I can head out before that on a full stomach but then I’ll be eating on the bike anyway which means my gut is going to be working even harder to digest all the food.

Why not both? Like on race mornings I eat some complex carbs both 5 hours out, 3 hours out, and then simpler carbs an hour out and 15 mins out.


There was an entire podcast segment dedicated to this topic. I will try to locate it. Based upon the type of food and how quickly it can digest/be processed by the body Chad has time prior to event start recommendations. So a gel was 15-20 minutes prior, fibrous fruit was 40-60 minutes or so, steak dinner 5 hours… you get the point. The list was based on food type and assumed digestion rates though.

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My anecdotal experience; if I eat 1.5 hours prior, I feel significantly worse than if I wait 2 hours. I do many workouts with 5 hours of separation, but I have to be ready with the fuel at the start of the workout

I totally get eating long enough before to absorb carbs and have energy. My prob is a lot of my rides and workouts need to happen at 6 am ;(

From experience, I handle tougher workouts in the evening a lot better than the morning. Any suggestions for those early hard rides?


That depends on your schedule. I do my weekday workouts in the morning, so I don’t have time to eat before my morning workouts. That may not be optimal, but given my life commitments, I have no other option. For short workouts, I find I do not need much fuel.

For my weekend workouts, I eat about 2.5-3 hours in advance.

if you’ve just eaten the body’s blood resources are used in digesting food, instead of used for smashing pedals. wait 90-120m and see how it improves!


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Eat the Day/night before. Your stores will be more or less full to do a hard workout. Feed the workout during to optimise performance. Most Hard TR workouts are 1-1:30 so you pretty much have enough onboard energy to complete fasted. Fueling in workouts is as much about aiding recovery for future workouts as is about fuelling that particular session

Eating 2-3 hours before is more about fully topping off stores and preparing stomach for hard racing.