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8 Pre-Workout Foods to Get You Moving and Keep You Going

Pre-Workout Foods

What do you eat before you head to the gym? Do you eat anything at all? Without a proper pre-workout meal, you may find that you don’t have a lot of energy while exercising. You could even be sabotaging yourself and your progress! If you’re not sure what to eat before exercising, keep reading. Listed below are 8 awesome pre-workout foods and drinks that will fuel you through every training session and help you to achieve your fitness goals sooner.

1. Fruit

Ideally, your pre-workout meal will provide you with a good source of simple, fast-digesting carbohydrates.

Contrary to what some people would have you believe, carbohydrates are not bad for you. When digested, they’re broken down into glucose, which is your body’s preferred fuel source.

Fruit is one of the best sources of carbohydrates, as well as micronutrients and antioxidants. Try eating an apple, some berries, or watermelon before you get ready to work out. 

2. Granola Bars

Most granola bars are made with high-carbohydrate grains like oats or puffed rice, so they’re full of carbohydrates to fuel your workout.

Granola bars are also an easy and convenient option for those who need a quick pre-workout snack that they can enjoy while on the go. Keep some in your gym bag or purse so you can grab one and eat it on your way to your workout.

3. Toast or Rice Cakes with Honey

Both toast and rice cakes are healthy sources of carbohydrates. They’re easy to digest and typically don’t cause stomach issues, which makes them an excellent choice for those who have sensitive stomachs.

If the idea of eating dry toast or a dry rice cake doesn’t appeal to you, try topping them with some honey. Honey will provide you with some natural sweetness and more carbs (which means more energy for your training session!).

You could also add fruit or a small amount of nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, etc.). Just be sparing with the nut butter since it’s high in fat. Some people get an upset stomach if they eat a lot of fat before exercising.

4. Cereal

A bowl of cereal with low-fat milk will provide you with some carbohydrates and protein before you head to the gym.

At this point, you know that carbohydrates are important to consume before a workout. You might be surprised to learn that protein is also important.

Eating protein before exercising can lead to a stronger anabolic response, which means faster muscle growth. It can also support faster post-workout recovery and help you to avoid feeling hungry or fatigued halfway through your workout. 

5. Oatmeal

If cereal doesn’t appeal to you, try making a bowl of oatmeal instead.

Oatmeal, like rice cakes and toast, is super versatile. You can add any toppings you want to sweeten your oatmeal and customize it to your preferences. Just try to stick to toppings that are higher in carbohydrates or protein and lower in fat (some good options include sliced or chopped fruit, honey, and maple syrup). 

6. Protein Shake

Most people think of protein shakes as drinks that you consume after your workout. They also make good pre-workout drinks, though.

Remember, eating or drinking protein before a workout can help with your muscle-building goals. It can also keep you full during a long or intense training session.

Protein shakes are very convenient, too. It’s easy to mix one up before you leave work or the house. Then, you can sip it on your way to the gym.

7. Rice and Lean Meat

A good high-protein and high-carb pre-workout meal is a combination of rice and lean meat (chicken, turkey, lean beef, etc.). This meal will keep you satisfied and provide lots of energy to help you power through your workout.

A meal centered around meat and rice is versatile, too. You can season the meat any way you’d like, and add a low-fat dressing or sauce for extra flavor if you want.

8. Low-Fat Yogurt

Low-fat yogurt can be a quick, tasty, and convenient pre-workout snack as well.

If you want to make it sweeter or more satisfying, try adding some fruit or honey. You can stir in a bit of granola as well for added crunch.

For those who want to enjoy a good mix of protein and carbohydrates before exercising, look for low-fat Greek yogurt. It contains more protein than regular yogurt, so it’ll be more filling.  

Pre-Workout Meal FAQs

You know which foods are best for a pre-workout meal. You might still have questions, though. Here are some of the most frequently asked pre-workout food questions, answered:

When Should I Eat My Pre-Workout Meal?

Generally, the closer you get to your workout, the smaller your meal should be. A granola bar might be fine 30 minutes before you hit the gym, but a big bowl of chicken and rice might be too much.

If you’re preparing a larger meal, try to time it about 1-2 hours before your workout. This gives you time to start digesting it so you’re not exercising on a full stomach.

For those who just want a quick pre-workout snack, limit yourself to about 100-200 calories 20-30 minutes before you start exercising.

Are There Any Foods I Should Avoid Before a Workout?

It’s best to avoid foods that are high in fat or that are very greasy before a workout. They can cause an upset stomach. High-fiber foods can also cause stomach problems while exercising. 

What About Water?

Make sure you’re hydrated before your workouts, too. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you drink between 0.5 and 0.6 liters of water at least 4 hours before your workout. Then, drink another 0.23-0.35 liters 10-15 minutes before you start exercising.

Try These Pre-Workout Foods Today

Are you getting bored with the same old pre-workout meals?

If so, use this list of healthy pre-workout foods and drinks to shake up your routine and get the nutrients you need to have a great training session. Keep the FAQs answered above in mind, too, so you can see the best results from your pre-workout meal. 

Do you need more ideas for fueling your workouts and getting the most out of them? Check out this post on the powers of botanicals to continue learning.