Getting the right pre-workout nutrition while on a WashU meal plan can oftentimes seem confusing and daunting. To make the most of your workout, however, it is essential to eat the right food. Though a crispy half and half (with the "good fries" of course) may be a fast and easy option, it probably won't give you the results you want from those daily treks to the AC. Here's the science behind pre-workout nutrition and how to attain it while at WashU.

Pre-Workout Nutrition Science

Isabel Leeds

The basic science behind pre-workout nutrition is pretty simple. For the majority of individuals—as in those who are not competing in a particular sport or who don't have specific fitness goals—focusing on general nutrients and timing is more than sufficient. Eating within the basic nutritional parameters at around the right times will maximize workout performance and energy, which can also lead to better muscle recovery. 

If you're looking for more specific guidelines according to specialized sports nutrition, check out this article for strength training, or this one for cardiovascular endurance.

What to Eat Before Trekking to the AC

WUSTL, #holmes
Charlotte Ohana

While the science seems easy enough, real life isn't always so straight forward. Despite the common belief that it's hard to find healthy and appealing foods at WashU's dining options, here are some of the many choices at WashU that offer the quick snack you need before a workout.

Cafe Bergson and BD/Paws

My personal savory favorite that can be found at both Paws and Cafe Bergson is a perfectly-cooked hard boiled egg in the pre-packaged kosher section. If you're famished and have a little more time, grab some hummus and vegetables to go with your protein-packed egg. If you have meal points to burn and more of a sweet tooth, the Jamba Juice smoothies with whey protein can also be found at Cafe Bergson.

If your workout is in the morning, I highly suggest Bergson's oatmeal, which is only available until about 10:30 or so, with a banana. Greek yogurt is another one of my go-to pre-workout snacks, but it can only be found at Paws. I have some protein granola stashed in my room that I add to it for a boost of flavor and a little texture.

For a bit of a larger snack or meal, I usually peruse the extensive salad bar at Paws and Go. There are so many different salad topping that I never get bored. The pasta station in BD is alright, but spaghetti probably has more carbohydrates than your body needs for your workout. If you just can't kick that craving for Italian, be sure to add in some protein like chicken or tofu and to avoid the heavy alfredo sauce.

Law Cafe and Holmes 

#holmes, WUSTL
Charlotte Ohana

For a bigger meal that's about 2-3 hours before the start of your workout, it is important to incorporate both protein and carbohydrates, and maybe even a little healthy fat. My favorite meal that meets all of these categories is the carvery wrap at the Law Cafe or Holmes Lounge. The protein from the meat paired with complex carbohydrates from assorted vegetables and a little healthy fat from the red wine vinaigrette is the perfect combination for lasting energy. 

egg, chicken, egg yolk, duck
Jocelyn Hsu

If you don't have time to wait in the outrageous lines at either Holmes or Law for a wrap, there are still plenty of options. The DUC offers quite a few healthy options, and many of them have my favorite source of protein: eggs. About once or twice a week the DUC offers an egg-based vegetarian option. This dish usually consists of a frittata or quiche with a side salad. The meal is light, but it's still filled with nutritious protein that keeps you full even after your workout.

The taco salad (with lettuce, not tortilla chips) at the Mexican station is also a reliable option, just be prepared to spend more meal points if you want guac.

Now It's Time For Your Workout

isabel leeds, workout
Isabel Leeds

You've fueled up and you're on your way to the AC (or alternatively the estrogym). Now all that is left is the easy part: the workout. With your optimal energy, you should be able to run a little farther or lift just a little bit more, right? Probably not at first. It might take quite a few workouts to feel the results of optimal pre-workout nutrition, but stick with it and you will definitely be rewarded.