Tactical Fitness with Stew Smith: Meals Before PFT

Beginning A Fitness Lifestyle Change

Hey Stew, I seem to react better to working out if I eat about two hours before training, not one. Would it be too long to eat and have a small cup of coffee three to four hours before the PFT? I would like to have a small cup of coffee, a banana, and a few baby carrots three to four hours prior to the PFT and water up one to two hours prior, then sip water instead of Gatorade during the test.  

Eating three to four hours ahead of time is fine, but I like to have a good carb snack about an hour before the test. It can be an apple, baby carrots, a banana, or even Gatorade. Check out this article on nutrition and what is recommended. There are plenty of options that may work for you for optimal performance on fitness tests.

Your proposed pre-PFT meal is not an issue. Hydration is key, and sugar helps during workouts and fitness tests, especially if you are maxing out on pushups, pull-ups, and sit-ups, then running 1.5 mile runs as fast as you can. You need fuel – good fuel.

Do you think there are any risks with my plan?

I have found that too much coffee (several cups) is detrimental as it gets your heart rate up too high prior to the workout or test.

Practice these fueling methods during workouts and do not wait for game day to try something new. It could make you ill during the test.  Experiment and find what you prefer and what works for you.


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Stew Smith works as a presenter / editorial board with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  There are also over 800 articles onMilitary.com Fitness Forum focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

Latest Fitness Books:  Navy SEAL Weight Training and Tactical Fitness

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