How To Eat Before, During, & After Getting Tattooed

Getting tattooed is an endurance sport. Here’s how to train:

Days Before

Just like running you want to be hydrating and maybe going as far as carb-starving then carb loading for your muscle glycogen but the unique thing you want to focus on is your skin.

Now you’d have to be taking collagen for weeks beforehand to see measurable benefits but in the day or days before it could still have some merit so here’s your chance to drink bone broth. You want some vitamin E so bananas and walnuts are a great choice. And of course you want lots of water and no alcohol.

Yes, I’m sorry, I know the drunken tattoo badassery is great but hooch dries out your skin and thins your blood. And could possibly cause you to make dumb decisions of course. Sometimes dumb decisions are great – like Danny’s Spiderman tattoo – but let’s not bet on it, shall we?

And you know what? Caffeine is bad for your skin too. Again, so sorry.

Now I was looking for ways to increase endorphin production for some natural pain killing and I found some talk of opioid-like peptides in gluten, casein, and soy bonding to receptors temporarily and then causing a withdrawal which makes someone more sensitive to pain but I’m not going to go down this rabbit hole. You know what naturally boosts endorphins? Laughter. Also pets.

Actually here’s just a link to a list from reader’s digest. Do all that stuff and you should be basically bullet proof.

Day Of

I like to have a big meal beforehand but don’t go nuts, you don’t want to be gassy and bloated and remember: Your body draws blood away from digestion when you’re in fight-or-flight mode, sometimes so much that your body chooses to empty the stomach.

Ask any tattooist. They’ve seen it happen.

During that tattoo if you want to eat something – which you should if it’s over two hours – its just like running a race: Light carbs, liquid form best, or some fruit.

And it’s okay to take a break and do push ups or jumping jacks or whatever. Remember to talk and laugh and bullshit but also that it’s okay if you want to put in headphones and zone out alone for awhile. You and the artist are in this together, talk about your wants and needs.


Just go to town. Last tattoo my girl and I each ate a 12 inch pizza then passed out. Normally I’d go out drinking. And I mean drinking.

Because, just like race day, you know you should rest and recover and get some omega-3s to reduce inflammation but really you just want to party it up with idiots so have at it. You’ll heal.

And one more thing that makes it just like marathon running is that even when it super sucks… you’ll forget that part and eventually want to do it again.

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