How to Fuel to Get More Out of Your Next Workout

Do you find yourself running out of energy during your workouts? Are you afraid to eat during or before your workouts because you get sick while spinning or feel queasy when you are upside down? Then you may not be fueling your workouts appropriately. 

Do you often workout for 2 or more hours at a time? Do you make sure to eat during these extended workouts? Did you know that no matter how much we eat before our workout we can only fuel our workouts for about 90 minutes! That’s IF you ate well before your workout. So, that 2nd hour comes, and you are feeling weak and tired. Is that because you don’t have the strength or because you ran out of fuel?

It doesn’t matter if you are flipping on silks, spinning on a lyra, doing ground conditioning, or hooping. All these workouts need fuel! Maybe you know that. In this post, I will explain when it is important to fuel, foods that would be good for you to fuel with, and things to avoid to not feel bloated, or full while working out. 

When is it important to fuel?

As an athlete you should be fueling before, during and after a workout. Most people know they should be fueling before and after, but many people don’t understand the during and that is really what we are going to dive into now.

As I mentioned before, the food we eat before our workouts generally will only last our bodies about 90 minutes during a moderate to high intensity workout. So, what happens after those 90 minutes? Our body slows down, our workout starts to feel more difficult, you may actively start feeling hungry. 

If you are waiting till you are hungry to fuel your body, it is already low on energy!

a series of pictures working out. aerialist and acrobats

How do you know how much to eat?

Intake during exercise depends on a couple of things. It is not about your body size! It is about how much you are doing and for how long. As usual with nutrition nothing is an exact science so how each individual person’s gut tolerates different things also matters!

So here is the break down on how much to eat 

  • 1-2 hours before a workout – a larger snack with carbs and protein is fine. 
    • Example: fruit smoothie with milk or yogurt, a yogurt parfait, or a pb &J
  • 30-60 minutes before a workout – consume fast digestible carbs!
    • Examples: fruit, pretzels, apple sauce 

During a workout

  • Low or medium intensity lasting 30 minutes to 1 hour: not necessary to fuel during
  • Low intensity but 2 or more hours: 30 – 60 grams of carbs per hour
  • Medium/high intensity 1 -2 hours: 30 grams of carbs per hour
  • Medium/high intensity 2 hours or more: 30-60 grams of carbs per hour

Carbohydrate intake increases as exercise duration and intensity increases 

Things to avoid 

I promised to let you know more about the things you should avoid right before and during your workouts. It’s not because these items are bad, they just may not help you feel good while hanging upside down.

  • High fiber foods – save anything with a lot of fiber for early in the day, at least 4 hours before your workout or with your post workout meal. We love fiber but it can upset the stomach during higher intensity exercise. This is a food item that makes many feel bloated during workouts. 
  • High fat foods – same as fiber we don’t want to have a lot of fat close to our workouts. This includes healthy fats! Avocados, salad dressings, sour cream, or fried foods. Heavy and slow to digest. Can lead to queasy feeling during a spin training session.
  • High protein foods – sensing a theme? Protein is great we need it especially for recovery but if you have too much before or during a workout you may have a hard time digesting and feel uncomfortable during your workout. 

Foods to eat during your workout

Okay so now you know when you need to fuel and what you need to avoid. Would you like to know what things would be beneficial to eat during your workout? Well, here you go! 10 great foods to fuel your tank to avoid feeling sluggish in the middle of your workout. Remember carbs should be the focus of during training snacks. 

  1. Fresh Fruit – grapes, apples, oranges
  2. Dried Fruit – raisins, craisins, apricots
  3. Apple Sauce/Go Go squeeze (my personal favorite) 
  4. Fruit snacks 
  5. Granola bar 
  6. Fig bar 
  7. Fruit cup 
  8. Pretzels 
  9. Sports drink 
  10. Energy bites (check out this recipe!)

* Tips and Reminders for fueling during a workout *

  • Try out different snacks to see what makes you feel fueled best.
  • If you change the length or intensity of your workout, you’ll have to adjust how you fuel.
  • Avoid making changes trying new things around competition time, a student showcase, or if you have a large/important gig coming up. 
  • How you eat and hydrate during the day leading up to your workout may affect how much fuel you need during. (We should aim to always go into workouts fed!)
  • If you are training a lot have a plan to snack. Don’t wait for hunger to set in to remind you to fuel. 

We went through a lot on how to fuel your next workout. You don’t have to change everything at once. Just choose one thing you can do at your next workout, that will make a difference in your training. Remember you work hard as an unconventional athlete. Let’s make sure you are also fueling intentionally to get the most out of each of your workouts. A fueled body is a strong body

Need help making an individualized plan? Want an accountability partner to help you reach your goals? Head over to my contact page and schedule a discovery call! Let’s find out how I can help you become a confident, strong, and fueled athlete. 

This blog is purely informational. Please consult a health professional as needed before making any changes to your diet.


Karpinski, C. and Rosenbloom, C.A. (2017) Sports Nutrition A Handbook for Professionals. 6th Edition, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Chicago.

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