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1. Pre-Exercise Fueling

When and How Much to Eat Before Exercise

Our Recommendations

  • Three hours before exercise, complete your meal of 300 to 500 calories of low-fiber, easy-to-digest complex carbs and a small amount of protein.
  • 30 minutes before, consume one serving of Fully Charged in 4 to 8 oz of water.
  • Want to “top up” right before you start? Consume a serving of Hammer Gel® 10 minutes prior to beginning your activity.


The timing of your pre-exercise meal is critical. Be sure to complete your meal no less than three hours before your workout or race, regardless of your event’s duration. (That means the fork or spoon is down at 6 a.m. if your event starts at 9 a.m.) Three hours allows your body to fully process the meal and avoid intestinal distress. You’ll feel “light on your feet” as your body devotes all blood and oxygen to your physical efforts rather than digesting your meal.

Eating within three hours of endurance exercise also raises blood sugar, which can seriously hamper performance. It reduces the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel. A meal during this time will lead your body to burn through its limited reserves of stored carbohydrates (muscle glycogen) more quickly.

This combination of rapid glycogen depletion and decreased fat burning reduces endurance and performance. Though it may sound counterintuitive, the science is clear: for optimal performance, abstain from eating for three hours prior to your start time.


Consume 300 to 500 calories of mostly low-fiber, easy-to-digest complex carbohydrates and a small amount of protein.

The purpose of your preexercise meal is to top off the liver glycogen stores your body expends during sleep. Muscle glycogen, which constitutes about 80% of your total carbohydrate stores, remains intact overnight, so if you had a proper recovery meal after your last workout, your muscle glycogen will already be full. Since you only need to top off your liver-stored glycogen, a light meal of 300 to 500 calories is sufficient.


Adopt and consistently follow these pre-exercise fueling recommendations and watch your performance soar! Properly timing your caloric intake before every activity will ensure you get the most out of your time, no matter your goals, intensity, or duration of exercise.

After 30 years offering this advice, we have yet to hear from a single person that it did not work. Apply this approach consistently and watch how well your body responds.

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Great Article

Nicholas Mirabella

Message: I work weekdays from 7 am till 3pm. Early in the morning I always eat oatmeal and an egg. I sip a coffee in the morning and then my lunch break is from 12 till 1pm. So if I eat 300 to 500 calories of rice with an egg, for example, and then around 4pm am I able to be on a peak of performance. But sometimes I have delays and cant start my activity before 5 or 6 pm. Is that okay to eat something extra under the 3 hour rule to compensate?

Answer: Hello Carlos, Thank you for your question. In the scenario you describe, the idea would be to have another snack at 2 or 3 pm, when you know how long you’ll be delayed, but still maintain the 3-hour window prior to exercise. If that cannot be known, then do not worry about eating more, even if that means you are starting a workout 4-5 hours after your last meal – always better to start a workout, especially high-intensity ones. Just be very sure to start fueling 10 minutes before and throughout your workout, then have dinner as soon as you finish. Should work very well. BDF – Hammer Nutrition

Hammer Nutrition

A great way to get your workouts off to the best possible start is via our Fully Charged pre-exercise supplement ( Click on the ADDITIONAL INFORMATION button on the Fully Charged to find the list of all the ingredients in the product (all of which have benefits for general health and well as athletic performance).

Proper recovery is absolutely crucial, and the best way to kick-start this all-important process is by replenishing the body with high-quality carbs and protein right way after exercise has been completed. Recoverite ( or Organic Vegan Recoverite ( is the quick, easy, and highly effective way to accomplish this.

For additional recovery tips and suggestions, please see the article “Recover Right and Reap the Rewards” at

Steve J Born

I need some help.. I’m 70 year old male and a hiker. Typically I get up in the morning around 6:30 am have a cup of coffee and than go for a hike. I’m in the training phase for a 400 (remainder of a 500-mile hike in Spain started in 2019). After about a 7-8 mile hike I’m exhausted and need most of the rest of the day to recover including a nap of 1-2 hours. I need help with pre and post recovery in order to recover faster. I use endurolytes and love the product. I leave for Spain at the end of September, this will be my third 500 mile hike in Spain. I have been a hiker all my life.

Brad Heavey

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