Food as Fuel – Intra-workout nutrition

In Part 1 we focused on why the pre-workout meal could be the most important meal of your day.  Here in Part 2 the focus will shift to intra-workout nutrition and answering the questions of:  Do I need to eat during a workout? How much or when should I eat/drink anything?  Let’s get into it! This one will be short and sweet (pun intended). 

Intra-workout Nutrition Basics

If you get in a quality pre-workout meal your body will be primed and ready, so for workouts less than 60 minutes you generally do not need to worry about eating or drinking any calories during the workout.  Once those workouts start getting longer than 60 minutes a little nutrition goes a long way to help you get the most out of that extra work you are putting in.  Things we will focus on here are simple carbohydrates and protein sources that your body can digest, absorb and use right away.  

Intra-workout Nutrition: What, when and how much do I need…

Ever come into the gym with every intention of hitting some accessory work after the WOD, but skip it because you feel “smoked” and have nothing in the tank?  Yeah, me either…A little carbs and/or protein can go a long way to give you a little gas in the tank to hit that accessory or skill work you’ve been wanting to workout after a WOD. 


Let’s start with carbs.  After 30 min, start consuming 0.5g/min that you plan on working out after that.  For example, if you plan on spending an extra 30 min after class on some accessories, skill or conditioning after the WOD then you would aim for 30 g of carbohydrates somewhere between that 30-60 min mark.  Here are some examples of what 30 g of carbs looks like: 

  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Banana
  • 7 Sourdough Pretzels
  • 15 Gummy Bears
  • 15 Animal Crackers
  • 16oz Gatorade

Notice those are all simple carbohydrates and all inexpensive options.  Of course there are all kinds of gels and drink mixes that may be a little faster, but they also come with a price tag.  So weigh your options and experiment to see what works best for you.  Personally, I love 1 Tbsp of honey and 3-4 Pretzels to get a mix of carbohydrates to maximize absorption and some extra salt because I sweat….a lot.  

Protein & BCAAs

A little protein or BCAAs during your workout can help create an anabolic (muscle building) environment to give your body the building blocks it needs to rebuild and recover.  Protein is made up of amino acids.  Amino acid supplements are rapidly absorbed and sent directly to your muscle to be used as fuel as well as build & repair muscle protein.  Protein powder or aminos can be a great option especially for those that exercise in a fasted state, are in a calorie deficit or who are counting macros and don’t want to use their carbohydrate allowance intra-workout.  Here are a couple options: 

  • ~10g of a fast digesting protein like Whey (especially the isolate form like in the Ascent Whey)
  • ~10g of a plant-based protein powder works as well (Driven or Ascent Plant Protein)
  • 5-10g of an Amino Acid supplement (1-2 Heaping scoops of our Driven Aminos)


Next time you are looking to get a little extra work in or feel like you could use a little kick toward the end of a workout try one of the options above and see what combination of intra-workout fuel works best for you!