Consistently exercising is the best way to improve your health and fitness while maintaining overall wellness. However, the food you consume before you start your exercise can have a major impact on your performance during the workout.
Your body performs at its optimal level if it gets the targeted nutrients and energy before you start an intense workout. Consuming the right food before you head to the gym can ensure you train longer and achieve your goals.
Understanding what makes a good snack before the workout and planning can allow you to get the most out of your exercise routine.
Creating a Good Pre-Workout Snack
The key to eating right before you start exercising is ensuring you give your body sufficient energy to fuel the entire workout without overloading calories. Many try to avoid this by exercising on an empty stomach, which can negatively impact the workout. It can result in weakness, lightheadedness and even increase the risk of an injury.
If working out between meals, many individuals already have sufficient glycogen stored to fuel a good workout without eating snacks. However, you need to ensure you don’t run out of this glycogen, which could interfere with your workout, causing extreme fatigue and weakness.
To avoid this, it is important to fuel your body with proper nutrition to make the most of your workout and reap the benefits.
12 Healthy Pre-Workout Snacks
While there are multiple healthy snacks you can consume before a workout, here are some popular ones that can energize you and prepare your body for a workout:
Bananas are referred to as the power bar of nature as they are backed with potassium and carbs, which helps in supporting muscle and nerve function. Carbs make up 90% of the banana calories and are a great source of fuel for your brain and body.
Oats are loaded with fiber and gradually release carbs. This slow release ensures the energy levels stay consistently up during your workout. As a result, you can exercise harder for a longer time. Oats also include vitamin B, which helps your body convert carbs into energy.
3. Hard Boiled Egg
Snacking on hard-boil eggs is a quick, easy, and filling snack that can prepare your body for an intense workout session. This can be a go-to option when you are running low on time and need something good to consume before the workout.
4. Grilled Chicken, Broccoli and Sweet Potato
If your goal is to build muscles or are planning for intense circuit training, this combination makes a great meal before the workout. Grilled chicken with sweet potato and broccoli is one of the most popular pre-workout meals for many athletes.
5. Apples and Almond Butter
Apple slices dipped in almond butter make a savory and filling snack that is loaded with healthy fats, protein, and carbs. While this might not be as easy to digest as other snacks, it will still give you an energy boost to make your workout easier.
6. Dried Fruit
An easy and quick pre-workout snack is dried fruit. Make a mixture of dried pineapple, figs, apricots and berries before you hit the gym. Dried fruits are a good source of carbs and are easy to digest.
7. Whole Grain Bread
A slice of toasted whole-grain bread is another excellent source of carbs that can give you an energy boost. You can also add some low-fat turkey slices or boiled eggs for additional protein.
8. Fruit Smoothie or Smoothie Bowl
Smoothies make a great pre-workout snack as they are healthy and don’t include solid food, which is ideal before the workout. You can combine multiple fruits to make a delicious pre-workout snack. Get a bunch of berries, half a banana and a handful of kale and add some protein powder. Mix them in a blender with a cup of water, and you are done.
9. Chocolate Milk
Chocolate milk comes with the right balance of protein and carbs that help in repairing muscle damage during your workout and has been recommended by many nutrition experts for athletes and makes for a simple and delicious pre-workout snack.
10. Greek Yogurt with Fruits
This is certainly an amazing pre-workout snack as it is full of protein and carbs. While regular yogurt is also beneficial, Greek yogurt has double the amount of protein, low sodium and fewer carbs. Adding fruits to the mix quickly breaks down the carbs that are then utilized to fuel the workout session, and the protein gets stored for a longer time and prevents muscle damage.
Dates have a high amount of natural sugar, which is easily digested and give you a quick energy boost for your workout. You can enjoy one or two dates before your workout to increase your energy levels.
12. Trail Mix
Nuts are loaded with fat, but they also come with high protein that is needed to build muscle mass. Snacking on trail mix is a great way to boost your workout if your goal is to increase your muscles. Make sure you skip the sugar-coated nuts and go with the natural mix. Moreover, if your goal is to lose weight, then you should probably stay away from this snack.
When is the Right Time to Eat a Pre-Workout Snack?
Your body continuously builds muscle and recovers throughout the day. Therefore, timing your snacks smartly provides your body with sufficient fuel it needs to not just recover but to burn fat and build muscles. Here are some tips to determine when to eat before your workout:
- Having a snack at least 45 minutes before the workout is the best way to ensure your workout lasts longer
- If your goal is to gain muscle, having a high-protein snack before you begin the workout can be highly effective.
- When working out in the morning, have a snack 30 minutes before you start working out.
- If you have had a big meal, it is best to avoid exercise. Make sure you give your body at least 2 to 3 hours of rest before you hit the gym.
It is essential to understand that everyone has a different tolerance level for foods before and after a workout. This might take some trial and error before you find the best time that meets the needs of your body.
Things to Avoid Eating before a Workout
While exercising on an empty stomach should be avoided, there are certain foods that you shouldn’t consume before your workout. Here are some of them:
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Energy Drinks
- Fast Food
- Fizzy drinks
- Refined sugar
- Spicy foods
Getting in shape requires you to consistently work out while also consuming a balanced meal. What you eat before you exercise can have a major impact on your entire workout. Therefore, be sure to plan your pre-workout meals along with the other meals in the day.
Fueling your body properly before the workout will prepare your body and energize you, allowing you to make the most of your exercise session.
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