Strategic Eating to Get the Most Out of Your Upcoming Workout

What if I told you there was a way to get better results from your workouts without increasing your effort.

Well, that is what this post is going to cover. What you eat leading up to your workout “makes or breaks” that workout. Don’t just hit your workouts haphazardly without planning in advance. Prepare your body for maximum fat loss by eating strategically leading up to that workout.
Strategic Eating

Think About Your Workouts a Few Days in Advance

If you know that you are going to hit cardio hard on Monday and Wednesday night, then it makes sense to get a bit carb depleted by the time those workouts roll around.

The time to begin going a bit lower on carbs would be Sunday night and all day Monday, leading up to your cardio workout. For your Wednesday night workout, you would want to go low carb Tuesday night and all day Wednesday leading up to that workout.

You would want to make Monday and Wednesday night (after your workout) the nights where you would allow yourself a higher amount of carbs.

Planning for a Party or Event With Lots of Food

Let’s say you have a wedding to go to on Saturday night and there is going to be a ton of great food, champagne, cake, beer, etc. I would recommend eating lower carbs on Wednesday and continue to eat this way until Saturday night.

I would enhance the level of carb depletion, by insuring that I did cardio three days in a row leading up to Saturday. The great thing about this is that you will look extra slim and sharp for the event. Since you are carb depleted, a large majority of those calories you eat and drink at the party are going to go back to replenishing your muscles.

Hit a Heavy Weight Training Day, the Day After a Party

If you ate in the manner described above and did carb depletion followed by eating a ton of food at the party, make sure you hit the gym the next day. Focus on weights. You aren’t going to get that much out of cardio, since your muscles are loaded with carbs…but you will be super strong!

Seriously, all the weights should feel lighter than normal. Take advantage of this, by having an extended session in the weight room. Many athletes do carb depletion followed by carb loading to increase their performance on the day of competition. You are kind of doing the same thing in a weird way.

Who would have thought eating a gazillion calories could increase performance?

What to Eat During the Day Leading up to the Workout

I am a big believer in hitting the gym on a completely empty stomach. I don’t touch a calorie of any sort 4 hours before hitting the gym…and even that meal is normally a bit of fruit or quick digesting protein shake.

I have heard arguments against this technique, but it works for everyone I know who gives it a shot. Your body has to burn fat for energy if there isn’t “carb energy” in your system.

I’ve never experienced muscle loss from this way of eating and it quickly gets me as lean as I desire.

Give it a try and see how it works for you.

33 thoughts on “Strategic Eating to Get the Most Out of Your Upcoming Workout”

  1. Hi Rusty!
    Your article is very inspiring and it fits my lifestyle. I feel more focused if I do weight training first thing in the morning with Empty Stomach. I don’t have time to eat first then wait 2 hours before training because I have to wake up earlier that way.

    I’m just a bit worried that all other sites think weight training with empty stomach is very bad because our body will use muscles for energy when it can’t find carb reserves. I don’t wanna loose my not yet big muscles. Maybe your philosophy is good only for overweight people? I have a normal weight and build.

    Thanks for your advice,

  2. Hi Rusty,

    I must say that I am a big fan of all things interval related since reading your articles and I would like to say thanks for all the info .I have achieved more in 2months interval training than in over a year steady state cardio.I have also followed your tips on not eating about 5 hours before a workout and 1after and it works!!!
    Here is my question if you could help?
    I am involved in rugby refereeing where match lasts 80 minutes plus .You could run anything from 5-7miles in the game depending on the level , you also need all too be very swicthed on for decision making.Would fasting 5 hours before a game be a bad idea ?

    Kind Regards


  3. When I was 17/18 I discovered that waiting 1 hour after eating a meal was the ideal time for me to do exercise and lift weights.. I used to eat heaps so I imagine it took an hour for the energy to hit me and I could digest it all while I exercised.

    As I got older I started to feel slow and lacking energy 1 hour after a meal so I left it to 2 hours and felt much better because the food was not in the top of my stomach but already going through the intestines.

    Now I like to do my workout 3 hours after my meal because there the food is even more digested, my glycogen is all full up from food and I’m not dehydrated from all the water going to my stomach for the digestion process! I feel as though I have more energy now.

  4. Rusty:

    Your site has been very inspirational to me, thank you so much for the wealth of information you’re providing.

    I’ve been studying all of the diet pages you have here , looking for the best way to supplement my workout plan. I’m a full time college student, but I also work 25 hours a week (IT guy, not much activity besides the occasional computer lifting).

    I take all of my classes on Tues/Thurs, and I have a 4.5 hour break in the afternoon, which is what I’ve been using for working out. I also lift on Saturday mornings. I’m trying to lose the stubborn fat in my chest/ab area, I used to run Cross Country so my legs and arms are pretty much fat free.

    Few questions:

    Would you recommend that I work in the HIIT workout you prescribed right after lifting on Tues/Thurs, or should I try to separate HIIT from lifting and go on M, W , F after work?

    If I do weight training and HIIT on the same day, would a sufficient diet be: Light breakfast (I have about 6 hours before my workout break) , empty up until workout or protein shake for lunch, low-medium carb meal 1 hour after workout.


    If I separate the HIIT days from Lifting days, would this diet work:

    HIIT days: Lite breakfast, protein shake lunch, (5 hours of work then HIIT) low carb meal

    Lifting days: Lite breakfast, no lunch, protein shake after workout, medium carb meal 1 hour after workout.

    I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this, thanks so much!

  5. Hey Rusty… would you edit my post above — I did not mean to use an affiliate link. Use this link instead:

    It was the only link I had at the time — not even sure if it is mine lol

    Yea — he has some nice themes for sure. I noticed he changed his license — can only use on one web site unless you pay more — just checked the license that came with mine — can use on as many sites as you want.

    Don’t blame him though.


  6. Andrew,

    Thanks a bunch! I like all of themes on that page. I will eventually purchase one of these themes for sure in the future. His stuff looks great!


  7. Mike,

    I must have missed your comment. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you! So you are doing two days in a row and one day off? There are so many eating strategies that will work with this setup, but here is what I would recommend.

    If your main focus is fat loss…Eat low carb on your day off, low carb on the first workout day, low carb leading up to the workout on the second day, and then eat a high carb meal after the workout on the second day. The plan here is that you are in a completely carb depleted state for both workouts and by the time you hit your workout on the second day, you will be a fat burning machine. The higher carb meal on day two after working out is going to get pumped into the muscles, and none of it will get stored as body fat since your muscles are starved for carbs to a certain extent.

    If you main focus is a bit of muscle size…Eat carbs on your day off, carbs on your first workout day, and only go low carb on your second workout day. The low carb day on the second wokout day will take care of any “spillage” that may occur if you ate too many carbs the previous two days.

    You will have to play around a bit to find the perfect way of eating…exceptionally low body fat percentage is almost always caused by adding in a strategic low carb plan of some sort. If you are worried about losing muscle mass, then just drink a whey protein shake on low carb days after working out…on days where you are eating more carbs, go for a full-blown meal replacement shake after working out (like Myoplex).


    At some point I am going to contact you to find out who did your blog design, or what theme you are using on your blog. Mine is probably too basic and at some point it needs to “grow up”. I don’t see a flower in that picture either!



  8. Also, any tips/advice on preventing muscle loss and preserving muscle size while losing fat? And any certain foods that help with preserving current muscle size before cardio workouts? I know you touch on points about muscle size and strength but I’m worried about losing muscle size while doing extended periods of cardio. Future post maybe?

  9. This site is freaking awesome. So many great points that I’ve never heard of before that make so much sense. I stumbled across it a few days ago and have been reading it like non stop. I just started with HIIT followed by steady state cardio and it works great. I do chest and back on days 1 and 4 and arms and shoulders on 2 and 5, each followed by HIIT and steady state cardio. On the in between day do just steady state cardio and some push-ups and situps and whatnot and again one day of the weekend. I do all my work outs in the afternoon/evening because I’m a corporate jockey for 9 hrs a day and I’m very religious about my exercise habits. I just feel the results for my efforts are VERY slow and I want to change that, HITT has helped alot.
    So I have a question following the 1,2,4,5 weight and HIIT days and the diet plan. Would I alternate higher carb days while lifting, or have the higher carb days while lifting and carb depletion on the non lifting days? I guess what I’m trying to figure out is the most effective eating plan for doing two days in a row of lifting and HIIT with a day in between.
    Thanks for devoting time to giving knowledge to people that aren’t so knowledgeable about all this. I’ve learned more here in the few days I’ve been reading than anywhere else

  10. I completely agree.
    If you work out in the morning it sets the tone for the rest of the day. You’ll be more inclined to stay healthy since you don’t want to mes up the hard work you did.

  11. Brandon,

    I’m not a genius, I just like to promote methods that work. Working out on an empty stomach delivers the goods as far as fat burning is concerned. The synergistic effect of increased GH levels and your body having no fuel to burn except body fat, gives your body no choice in the matter. You will burn fat during as well as long after the cardio workout is done!


    Fruit is basically engineered as the perfect food for our bodies to eat. Did you read my post on fruit?

    Fruit Facts

    Have a good one!


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