Have you ever wondered if what you eat before a workout really matters? You guys, it totally does! It’s crazy how different I feel when I’m trying to work hard but my diet has been off. I can tell immediately if I haven’t eaten enough because I feel like my body just won’t work as hard as I want it to. And if I’ve been indulging a lot, my body just feels heavy and I usually don’t feel as motivated.
So lately I’ve been trying to be super mindful about what I eat before I go on a run or to the gym! Breanna, my registered dietitian, helped me with this when I was planning out my 90 Day Journey, and I’ve used that as a guide for my pre-workout snacks ever since!
Wanna know some of my faves?!
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How to Choose the Best Pre-Workout Snack
First of all, do you have to eat before you workout? It depends! There’s no doubt that fueling up before your workout can help with performance and even recovery. However, some people who workout early in the morning or prefer to follow intermittent fasting feel better when they exercise on an empty stomach.
Personally, I always notice a huge difference when I eat before a workout vs. when I don’t eat. If it’s been too long since I’ve eaten anything, I start to feel kind of dizzy and I get tired A LOT faster.
But if you feel better not eating before your sweat sesh, then that’s totally fine!
If you prefer to eat something, research suggests eating anywhere from 30 min to 3 hours before your workout. Plan for a meal if it’s going to be more than an hour before, but go for something light like a snack if it’s going to be sooner. Eating a huge meal minutes before you hit the gym will just lead to an upset stomach.
I usually like to go the snack route and try to eat something lighter about an hour before my workout. But what is the best kind of snack to eat? There are two things I always make sure my pre-workout snack provides:
So carbs are stored as glycogen in the muscle, and your body uses that glycogen when you workout! How much glycogen you need depends on how long you’re working out, the intensity, etc. The bottom line is that you will need SOME glycogen, and the muscle can only store so much. And when it runs out during your workout, you move more slowly and have less power.
Eating carbs before your workout optimizes your glycogen stores so you have plenty of energy for your workout. I like to use fruit for a quick source of carbs!
Yes, you should include protein in your pre-workout snack too! Every time you workout you’re breaking down muscle tissue. Eating protein helps with building new muscle and recovery.
And don’t forget to HYDRATE!
My Favorite Pre-Workout Snack Ideas!
These are some of my go-tos! They’re super quick and simple to throw together and they always leave me feeling fueled and ready to work.
I like to make my smoothie bowls with almond milk, but sometimes I’ll use unsweetened coconut yogurt to make it thicker! Then I just blend it up with whatever frozen fruit I have on hand! To add protein, I’ll top my smoothie bowl with chopped nuts, nut butter or sprinkle with hemp or chia seeds. You can add protein powder too!
Obviously, you can make this as a regular smoothie in a cup too, if you need to take this on the go 😉
It’s kinda like eating dessert before a workout, which I LOVE.
Hard Boiled Egg & Fruit
Easy to prep and grab, and it provides a great mixture of protein and carbs!
A cup of fresh berries gives you 15g of carbs, and a hard-boiled egg swoops in with 6g protein.
Carrots & Hummus
Did you know carrots are a good source of carbs? Yep! A one-cup serving of baby carrots gives you around 20g of carbs. Serve them with 2 tablespoons of hummus to add a little more carb and plant-based protein.
Be careful with this pre-workout snack if you have tummy troubles though! Carrots are super high in fiber, which might cause discomfort while you exercise if you have a sensitive stomach.
The easiest snack EVER. A banana is my favorite snack when I’m super short on time. It has a good amount of naturally-occurring sugar to give my body a quick boost of energy, but it’s also easy to digest so I won’t feel sick if I eat it immediately before my workout.
One medium banana gives you about 105 calories and 27g carbs. Add peanut butter to get some pre-workout protein too.
What’s your favorite pre-workout snack? Tell me in the comments!