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You Asked: What Should I Eat before I Work Out?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/17/2011 2:00 PM   :  24 comments   :  15,707 Views

You probably know that fueling your body properly can help you take your workouts to the next level. After all, if you go too long without eating, you can feel tired, sluggish and even faint during an exercise session, which means your workouts will suffer and you won't get very good results from your efforts. But with properly timed meals and snacks, you can stave off hunger and give your body the energy it needs to perform at its best.
 
Here's how to create the perfect pre-workout snack (along with some of our favorite fueling ideas).
 
Hydrate: Drink 1-2 cups of water (up to 20 total oz.) within 1-2 hours before you work out. Get more tips for staying hydrated during a workout.
 
Eat: If you feel hungry before the gym, or tend to feel sluggish during a workout, eating a pre-workout snack may be helpful. Limit it to 100-200 calories, 3-5 grams of protein, very little fat and eat it within 30-60 minutes before your workout. This combo will digest quickly and give you an energy boost. Choose a high-glycemic and fast-digesting source of carbohydrates (at least 15 grams). If you eat something much larger, or too high in protein or fat, you could experience stomach discomfort and cramping (since the food won't be digested in time for your body to start diverting blood away from your digestive system and to your working muscles).
 
Just as some people can exercise on an empty stomach in the morning and others feel sick doing so, timing your pre-workout snacks and choosing what to eat is very individualized. I recently asked my Facebook followers what they like to eat before a workout. Here are some of their ideas that you may like, too. Most of these ideas (depending on the portion size) fit the guidelines above:
 
25 Pre-Workout Snack Ideas
  • Chocolate milk
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with green tea
  • Banana and a glass of water
  • 2 rice cakes with almond butter
  • Half a bagel with peanut butter
  • Toast
  • Nuts
  • A banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter
  • Carrots
  • An apple
  • Orange juice and water
  • Luna bar
  • Fiber One bar
  • A cup of fruit with a glass of water
  • Larabar
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Small bowl of cereal
  • Some pretzels
  • Clif bar
  • Kind bar
  • Milk
  • Gatorade
  • Yogurt
  • Blue Diamond dark chocolate almonds
  • Raisins
A few of my favorite pre-workout snacks are carrots with hummus, fresh berries with just a dollop of vanilla yogurt, definitely water, or a few crackers. Not only does it give me an energy boost for my workouts, but a small snack can control my hunger so that I'm not reaching for anything and everything once my workout is over.
 
What is your favorite pre-workout snack? And how soon before exercise do you normally eat it?





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Comments

  • 24
    I guess i will be eating a handful of nuts before i work out - 10/2/2011   4:34:20 PM
  • 23
    I found that trail mix works for me. They have individual snack bags a costco that I eat just before a workout & it gives me a lot of energy. - 8/25/2011   3:30:36 PM
  • 22
    When I workout in the morning, I drink water first thing as I am getting dressed, and then have a banana. It works the best for me - gives me energy, without filling me up too much.

    cj - 8/19/2011   10:59:20 AM
  • 21
    I usually work out first thing in the morning after I have 3/4 c. cereal and 3/4c. skim milk with 1/2 c. fruit (mandarin oranges or 1/2 a banana). - 8/19/2011   10:28:39 AM
  • 20
    Thank you! - 8/19/2011   10:21:28 AM
  • 19
    When I was training for a marathon that is when I realized what you ate prior to a work out could make or break you. Before I would go on a run I would eat a zucchini muffin and a small cup of black coffee and I kid you not I was on fire for all of my runs! - 8/18/2011   6:43:38 PM
  • 18
    I am all about peanut butter sandwiches and soy milk as my pre-workout go to food. As a runner I have had to "test" foods to see which ones will be ok during and after a long run. - 8/18/2011   6:17:21 PM
  • 17
    some fruit or sunflower seeds and some almond milk - 8/18/2011   5:38:01 PM
  • 16
    No matter how little I eat, I still feel sick when I work out. I gave up on the pre-workout snack. - 8/18/2011   2:26:07 PM
  • 15
    I don't technically set out to eat right before my workout. I plan workouts around when my last meal was. So that it has time to fully settle before I start being active. - 8/18/2011   11:40:20 AM
  • RICHYMOO
    14
    My workouts tend to be early morning and mid-afternoon. I don't eat until after my afternoon workout. My body has become accustomed to pretty efficient fat burning thanks to a mix of Eat-Stop-Eat and Fast-5.
    Never felt so good or strong any time of day, not just during workouts. :) - 8/18/2011   11:14:51 AM
  • 13
    My favourite go-to pre-workout snacks are the same whether I work out in the morning or evening (since I try to never eat dinner first - too much food to digest). They are:
    - Half a green apple, 2 Triscuits, and either 1 tbsp peanut butter or a 1oz slice of lowfat cheddar cheese
    - Half a Luna bar and a handful of berries
    - Half a banana with 2 tbsp peanut butter

    Wash it down with 1-2 cups of water, and I'm ready to go! - 8/18/2011   9:46:01 AM
  • 12
    My favorite preworkout snack is an apple with a tablespoon or less of peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter. I eat about 45 minutes to an hour before I hit the gym. Bananas are also good:) - 8/18/2011   9:21:55 AM
  • 11
    Sometimes i eat multigrain cheerios and then a bagel. - 8/18/2011   8:49:55 AM
  • 2DIETORNOT2DIET
    10
    cheerio's and a banana for me - 8/18/2011   2:22:49 AM
  • 9
    I don't like to eat first thing in the morning. - 8/18/2011   12:31:13 AM
  • 8
    I like to eat a banana and a 50 calorie Fiber One yogurt 1-2 hrs before my workout. - 8/17/2011   10:24:08 PM
  • JULIA1154
    7
    I generally work out late afternoon or early p.m. If the workout is after dinner I wait an hour or so and don't need a snack before exercise. There are, however, some good suggestions here. - 8/17/2011   5:46:08 PM
  • 6
    I like to munch on a handfull of Whole Grain Cheerios and a 16 oz. bottle of water.Usually in the mornings. If I have to wait until afternoon, I've generally had a luncheon salad or fruit and yogurt so I'm all set. - 8/17/2011   4:24:37 PM
  • 5
    Hubby's alarm goes off at 5am and I have an hour to get up, get dressed, get to the gym, workout and get back home so he can go to work (we have 2 kids who are still in bed at that hour!). I used to eat nothing, but lately I'm starving during my workout, so now I'll eat a huge bite of banana (and leave the rest on the table for when I return) and take a huge gulp of OJ (again, leaving the rest of the cup on the table for afterwards), and then head out the door with a bunch of water! - 8/17/2011   4:22:27 PM
  • 4
    I usually have a banana or a cottage cheese cup (the ones with the fruit on the bottom). - 8/17/2011   4:12:10 PM
  • 3
    1% cottage cheese is my go-to before workouts. I tend to focus more on weight training than cardio, though, so that 13 grams of protein is a real help. After workout I generally eat dinner. (I work out between coming home in the evening and dinnertime.) - 8/17/2011   3:08:57 PM
  • 2
    My workouts are first thing in the morning so I keep it simple with a half of a banana and a glass of water. I don't have enough time between 5 (when I wake up) and 7:30am (when I have to be showered and out of the house) to digest a meal and comfortably make it through a workout. - 8/17/2011   2:33:04 PM
  • 1
    I love nonfat plain yogurt with walnuts - 8/17/2011   2:16:27 PM

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