9 Pre-Workout Foods That Will Maximize Your Time at the Gym

There’s a lot more to exercising than just losing weight. Research shows that working out regularly can help lower your risk of chronic health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. An active lifestyle is also known to improve sleep, mood and energy levels.

To stay fit and active, you need to make sure all your hard work at the gym doesn’t go to waste. Not eating before a workout can lead to low blood sugar, dizziness and fatigue. You may workout for an hour, but there’s not much you’re getting out of it if you’re burned out.

In simple terms: carbs become energy. When you eat carbohydrates, they metabolize into glucose, which makes its way to your muscle cells, and provides you with the fuel to get moving.

pre-workout foods

If you’re running low on glucose when you exercise, you’ll feel weak and exhausted. This may drive you to cut you workout short and rest instead. For this reason, simple carbohydrates make for great pre-workout foods. Simple carbs are digested faster and provide you with a quick boost of energy.

It’s also important to add some protein to your pre-workout meal. When you exercise and lift weights it can lead to minor tears in your muscle fibres. Protein considerably improves recovery. It heals muscles and makes them grow stronger.

Pre-Workout Foods You Should Eat Before Exercising

To maximize your workout, you need pre-workout foods that will keep you going strong. It’s essential to fuel up with foods that provide you with the proper nutrition to help you exercise at full capacity.

When it comes to pre-workout snacks, you can eat whenever you like. But remember that the closer you are to your workout, the simpler your snack should be. Avoid eating 15-20 minutes before your workout—it takes an hour or two for your food to be digested, and then absorbed from your digestive tract into your blood.

Here are nine pre-workout foods that will keep you energized throughout your workout.

1. Homemade Energy Bars

Energy bars are an efficient way to fuel up before a workout, but you should watch out for commercial brands as they’re loaded with sugar, artificial flavors, and preservatives—ingredients aren’t really healthy.

Fortunately, making your own protein bars is quite easy. You can use healthy ingredients of your choice like almonds, pistachios, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds that will make you feel full and energized. Adding honey and dates is a great way to add healthy carbs to your bars. You can also use vegan protein powder to make them healthier. Make your energy bars in big batches so you can enjoy them all week.

2. Greek Yogurt

You may find it surprising, but Greek yogurt is one of the best pre-workout foods out there. It’s packed with twice the amount of protein as plain yogurt, and roughly half the quantity of sugar. It also contains gut-healthy probiotics. Avoid flavoured varieties of Greek yogurt as they’re often loaded with sugar. Cottage cheese is another high-protein dairy option that makes for a great pre-workout snack.

3. Bananas

Bananas are a great source of fast-acting carbs that give you a quick boost of energy that’s required for a tough workout. It’s s also a rich source of potassium, which aids muscle and nerve function. It’s a great pre-workout snack, especially for someone who exercises in the morning without eating breakfast first. Eat a banana at least 30 minutes before your workout.

pre-workout foods

4. Caffeine

If you didn’t already have enough excuses to drink more coffee, here’s another. Research shows caffeine generates energy and boosts metabolism, allowing you to make the most of your workout. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology shows caffeine can make your workout more fun, and prevents you from overeating later in the day. It can also reduce fatigue and improve the rate of fat-burn. Have a cup of black coffee an hour before you workout.

5. Hardboiled Eggs

Hardboiled eggs are an incredible pre-workout snack. They’re easy to make and portable as well. A rich source of protein, eggs will give you a boost of energy before a workout, without making you feel too full. The protein content also helps muscle building and repair. Eggs are a good source of vitamin B2, which helps release energy from protein and fat.

6. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a great choice when it comes to pre-workout foods. In fact, they’re a healthier alternative to rice and grains, and you could include them in your daily diet. A one cup serving of cooked chickpeas contains 45 grams of carbohydrates, in addition to 12.5 grams of fibre, and 14.5 grams of protein.

7. Fruit and Oatmeal

For a long and strenuous workout, you need a snack that will fill you up and keep your energy levels high. Oats satiate hunger without making your feel bloated. Oats are loaded with fibre, which allows for the slow release of carbs into your bloodstream. This provides you with a steady supply of energy during your workout. Oats contain several key nutrients, and offer a range of health benefits. A bowl of plain steel-cut oats, a little sweetener like honey or dark chocolate, and a piece of fruit make for a great pre-workout snack.

8. Trail Mix

Nuts are chock-full of healthy fats and protein, while dried fruit offers lasting energy. This makes trail mix a great pre-workout snack. Watch out for store-bought mixes that are often pack with salt, preservatives, and sugar. The best option would be to make your own trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, and seeds. An ideal mix would contain dates, puffed buckwheat, raw cacao nibs, and hazelnuts. It’s a great grab-and-go snack.

9. Chicken/Turkey Breast

Chicken or turkey breast should be your go-to protein source. Ideally, a pre-workout snack should contain 20 to 30 grams of protein that allows your body to stay in an anabolic state to avoid your muscles from breaking down during your workout. Chicken breast adequately fulfills these requirements.


Note: You need to follow a tough gym session with a nutritious post-workout snack. This way you can restore energy, while building and repairing muscle. You should aim to drink protein-rich shakes and snacks within two hours of your workout.

Rumana Dsouza

Rumana D’Souza is the social media and content coordinator for Prizm Media and Kudolife. She has found her life’s calling in writing about health and wellness, and believes she can make the world a touch healthier – one blog post at a time.

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