What should I eat before exercise? Pre-exercise nutrition and the response to endurance exercise - Current prospective and future directions


The primary variables influencing the adaptive response to a bout of endurance training are exercise duration and exercise intensity. However, altering the availability of nutrients before and during exercise can also impact the training response by modulating the exercise stimulus and/or the physiological and molecular responses to the exercise-induced perturbations. The purpose of this review is to highlight the current knowledge of the influence of pre-exercise nutrition ingestion on the metabolic, physiological, and performance responses to endurance training and suggest directions for future research. Acutely, carbohydrate ingestion reduces fat oxidation, but there is little evidence showing enhanced fat burning capacity following long-term fasted-state training. Performance is improved following pre-exercise carbohydrate ingestion for longer but not shorter duration exercise, while training-induced performance improvements following nutrition strategies that modulate carbohydrate availability vary based on the type of nutrition protocol used. Contrasting findings related to the influence of acute carbohydrate ingestion on mitochondrial signaling may be related to the amount of carbohydrate consumed and the intensity of exercise. This review can help to guide athletes, coaches, and nutritionists in personalizing pre-exercise nutrition strategies, and for designing research studies to further elucidate the role of nutrition in endurance training adaptations.