Pre-workout meal recipes: chocolate oats and pasta tomato sauce

Are you convinced by the importance of a proper pre-workout meal but don’t know which foods to eat to gain the benefits? Then this post is for you!

As described in last week’s article, an effective pre-workout meal is consumed 2-4 hours before physical activity and contains 200-300 grams of carbs (preferably mostly of a low glycemic index). Low glycemic index (GI < 55) foods promote a more stable blood glucose level compared to high glycemic index carbs (GI > 75). Eating low GI carbs improves the ability to utilize fat and leads to optimal metabolism. Moreover, there are some indications that low GI pre-workout meals outperform high GI pre-workout meals in terms of performance1. However, to keep meals attractive to any athlete, I will now provide you with two recipes: one consisting of mainly low and moderate GI foods while the other one consists of a mix of moderate and high GI foods.

Are you looking to gain an advantage over other athletes? Some research indicates that low GI meals can just help you push just a little bit harder compared to high GI meals (see last week’s article for the scientific background). Here a sample recipe of a low GI pre-workout meal: ‘pasta tomato frito al dente’

Ingredients: (calories; carbs; protein; fat):

  • 300 gram whole wheat pasta: (1008; 186 gram; 33 gram; 7.5 gram)
  • 300 ml tomato frito: (219; 27 gram; 3.3 gram; 10.5 gram)
  • 2 tomatoes: (22; 5 gram; 1 gram; 0 gram)
  • 100 gram mixed Italian veggies: (26; 4 gram; 1.5 gram; 0.4 gram)
  • Cheese and or roasted chicken as desired

Total macros: (1275 calories; 222 gram carbs; 38.8 gram protein; 18.4 gram fat)


  1. Put your pasta in a pan with boiling water: cook for 6 minutes. This is a bit shorter than the suggested 8 minutes stated on the packaging, resulting in ‘al dente’ pasta with a lower glycemic index.
  2. In the meantime, stir fry your mixed veggies for approximately 4 minutes. If you don’t want the extra calories from oil: use pan spray. It contains less than 5 calories per serving.
  3. As your veggies and pasta are being cooked, cut two tomatoes in small pieces.
  4. Once your veggies are done: add the tomato Frito and the tomatoes (if desired add the cheese and roasted chicken) and put it on a low fire for 2 minutes. This is your sauce.
  5. Lastly, drain the pasta, serve it on a plate and pour the pasta sauce on top.

As you may notice, in order to consume the 200-300 grams of carbs, you’ll have to eat quite a big meal. If you are not used to this or are not hungry due to nervousness, higher GI meals may become your best friend: they are less satiating and are (nearly) just as effective at improving performance as low GI meals. Here a sample recipe of a ‘liquid’ relatively high GI pre-workout meal. The fact that it is liquid makes it less satiating and thus easier to consume adequate carbs.

‘High’ GI pre-workout meal: ‘Chocolate oatmeal’

Ingredients: (calories; carbs; protein; fat):

  • 150 gram oatmeal: (536; 88.5 gram; 21 gram; 10.5 gram)
  • 30 gram Nesquick: (114; 23.7 gram; 1.5 gram; 1 gram)
  • 375 ml milk: (173; 17 gram; 13 gram; 6 gram)
  • 5 gram cocoa powder: (19; 1 gram; 1 gram; 1 gram)
  • 150 gram blue berries: (98; 17 gram; 1.5 gram; 0 gram)
  • 2 bananas: (248; 54 gram; 2.8 gram; 0.8 gram)

Total macros: (1215 calories; 201.2 gram carbs; 40.8 gram protein; 19.3 gram fat)


  1. Put the oats in a bowl.
  2. Add the milk.
  3. Put it in the microwave for 1 minute.
  4. See if you like thickness; if it is too thick: add more water and put it back in the microwave, if it is too thin: put it back in the microwave.
  5. Add the Nesquick and some cocoa powder if you like.
  6. Add the frozen blueberries: they will unfreeze once you mix them with the rest.
  7. Cut the bananas and mix them in the bowl.
  8. Top it off with some cinnamon to your taste.

Credits to Merijn for providing the staple for this awesome recipe in one of his video’s. Be sure to check him out!

As promised, two simple & SCIENCE-based meals. If portion sizes are too big for you, don’t force-feed! The amount of carbs required for performance enhancement may differ for every individual (depending on age, height, weight, etc.). Some people will find they will need to eat 300 grams while others will benefit from 100 grams of carbs. Just be sure to consume a high carb meal before physical activity with a duration of > 90 minutes. Use this knowledge to your advantage and enjoy the meals. Enjoy the weekend!


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