Getting in a good workout is key for staying healthy and fit. But if you’re not eating properly before you work out, you may be hindering your performance. Most trainers and fitness experts recommend a pre-workout snack about an hour before you work out to improve your energy and endurance during your exercise routine. But what do you eat? And what should you avoid?
The first thing to avoid (while not a food) is eating immediately before a workout. You need time to digest. If you eat a smaller snack you can probably wait 30 minutes to an hour, but if you choose to have a meal before working out it’s best that you wait at least two hours before starting physical activity.
Before we get to what you should eat, let’s discuss what you shouldn’t. You’ll want to avoid foods that are high in fat and fiber, which can lead to gastrointestinal issues, as well as sugar substitutes.
Foods to avoid include:
Anything super high in fat
Too much caffeine
Creamy (or too much) pasta
Soda or other carbonated drinks
Baked goods, added sugar or artificial sweeteners
Too much fiber (read food labels and steer clear of loading up on veggies too close to your workout)
Dairy (if you are lactose intolerant)
Foods containing sugar alcohols (high protein bars, low-carb snack foods)
Instead, you should choose pre-workout snacks that will help nourish your body and push you through the toughest workouts. Carbs and protein are best. Protein helps build and repair muscles. While carbs get broken down into glucose (the energy your body uses during exercise) or are stored as glycogen, which your body also taps into during exercise.
Here are 16 of the best pre-workout snacks to consider munching on before exercise.
Oatmeal with nuts
Greek yogurt with berries
Apple with nut butter
Hard boiled egg with whole grain toast
Low-sugar chocolate milk
Cottage cheese and fruit
Hummus and carrots
Rice cake with nut butter
Dried fruit and mixed nuts
Eggs and whole grain toast
About the author
Emily Shiffer is a former digital web producer for Men's Health and Prevention magazines, and she is currently a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, weight loss, and fitness. Her work has been published in digital and print formats for Women’s Health, Runner’s World, SELF, Health and more. She is based in Pennsylvania and loves all things antiques, music, and American history.