What To Eat Before Climbing or Bouldering

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You’re heading to the climbing gym after work and want to make sure you have enough energy, nutrients and protein to get the most out of your session.

There’s not enough time for dinner, so what type of snack is the best thing you can eat before your bouldering or climbing session? 

What will make sure you can keep going for that 1-2 hour burn?

A cornerstone of any balanced climbers diet, eating the right food will mean you can maximise on your training and start the recovery process putting your best foot forward. 

Is It Really That Important?

important announcement

How important is your pre-climbing snack really?

Do you really need to eat something in the hour before and if not will you really not make any gains because of it?

Let’s keep things simple.

It used to be thought that the pre and post workout meals were key to maximizing on your training session. If you didn’t have the right grub inside, you’d be missing out on a great opportunity to accelerate muscle growth and if not perhaps even hinder it.

Well, it turns out this isn’t really true but it’s also not completely false either.

Some Basics on Metabolism

Every day our body is constantly breaking down and rebuilding protein. When we get our pump on protein synthesis rates actually decline and then only increase again once we’re done.

So in terms of physical strength, you actually make your gains after training. During training you’re breaking down tissue, but it’s during recovery that this is rebuilt, repaired and growth can occur. 

So basically with our pre-workout snack we’d like to dial down the muscle breakdown rates, get our body ready for muscle synthesis AND have enough energy to do so effectively.

The short and sweet of it. If you haven’t had a meal in the past 2-3 hours, you should have a quick snack consisting of:

  • Protein
  • Carbs


proteins for after climbing

Protein synthesis rates start shooting up when you’re digesting protein and after. You’re body’s now got all those little amino acids it needs to build those tired guns back up.

Ideally you therefore already want to have protein in your body before you start working out.

If you haven’t eaten any in the 3-4 hours before training then it’s a good idea to have some.

If you have had some in the past few hours, then you’re actually all good till after your workout.


carbs for after climbing

For sure you need energy for any marginally strenuous type of exercise. 

Muscles use glucose for fuel which is stored as glycogen. When training, these stores are depleted.

Therefore having some in the 45-60 minutes before doing all that plastic pulling, will give your body an abundance of blood sugar to burn directly. Plus it will keep you going after.

Interestingly, it’s also now thought that having higher glycogen stores improves cellular signalling related to muscle building. So not using up your bodies glycogen stores may also improve performance. And you can do that by eating enough carbs beforehand.

Research shows that 30-40g of carbs eaten around 30mins before a workout hits the sweet spot.

4 Great Foods For That Pre-Climbing Snack

1. Oats

Classic. Overnight oats, porridge, oatmeal cookies, stick some in a quick smoothie,  these are the best. They’re also digested slowly, keep you full and provide sustained energy over a longer period of time than refined carbohydrates.

2. Bananas

If you’re looking for a healthy, cheap and tasty pre-workout special then bananas are the way to go. Fiber, potassium, and multiple other micronutrients are all hidden within these babies.

3. Salmon

On the protein side, also a classic. Packed with high quality protein and full of good omega 3’s you can’t go wrong with this.

4. Hemp Seeds

The Body Shop has been using hemp in it’s products for a long time, but over the past years hemp has become mainstream for many reasons. It’s a great complete protein and is packed with micronutrients.

A Few Quick Tips

Full meals should be eaten a few hours before and otherwise it should be snack size.

The closer you eat your snack to your workout, the smaller and simpler it should be.

If you’re in the typical 45-60 minutes prior window, choose foods that are easy to digest and not too heavy.

Even if you’re starving eating too much in the hour prior can leave you feeling sluggish and cause discomfort.


The pre and even post training snack is not the staple that as it was once thought.

If you have a well balanced climbers diet and had a meal containing carbs and proteins in the few hours before climbing then you’re good to go.

If it’s longer than 2-3 hours, then a protein and carb rich snack can help maximise on your returns from your session. Otherwise a similar snack after can also set you on the right track to recovery.

And then we’re golden.

Let us know your favourite pre-session snack!

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