Healthy pre workout snacks

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How to Choose the Best Pre-Workout Snack for Your Body

Right before a sweat sesh, some people swear by a handful of peanuts, or a specific brand of protein bar. And yet for others, the ideal option might be a … Wendy’s Frosty? Yep, a milkshake can actually have real pre-workout perks, according to Julie Duffy Dillon, RD, a nutritionist specializing in fitness. Read on to learn why—plus other helpful tips on how to fuel up right.

Pay attention to your body

Dillon, who has worked with high school, college, and professional athletes for 19 years, says the most crucial thing about picking a pre-workout snack is recognizing your individuality. “We can look at recommendations or nutrition books,” says Dillon, “but everyone is different in what feels best. The thing I always recommend to people who are wanting to move their bodies more and wanting to incorporate food is that it takes practice to figure out the best ways for you.”

Certified trainer and registered dietician Jonah Soolman agrees. “The first thing I say to patients when they come in with a sports and nutrition concern, whether it’s pre- or post-workout, is, ‘It always has to be individualized,’” he says. “There are certainly principles that apply to virtually everybody—say, for example, carbs before a workout,” he adds, but some things will vary.

Soolman, a marathoner, is a great example. “When I go for long runs, I drink Mountain Dew and eat Oreos,” he admits. “That’s what works best for my body. The way I found that was first trying things like Gatorade; that didn’t work for me so well.”

As you try various snacks, keep in mind that what works for your workout buddy might not work for you. “Our bodies are just different,” says Dillon. “Some people feel super-energized by a mix of macronutrients. For others, it’s carbs. We all metabolize differently, and we have to respect that.”

RELATED: 6 Rules for Post-Workout Meals

Don’t shun carbs

Our carb-avoidant culture can present difficulty for those trying to find the best sustenance for workouts, the experts say. “People turn their noses up at sugar and carbs,” says Dillon, but “from a sports point of view, you’re keeping the fuel from your muscles.”

The body tends to prefer carbohydrates, which digest quickly, as a source of quick fuel. Though both experts point out that there are always exceptions, for the majority of us, completely avoiding carbs will make it more difficult to exercise effectively. “My body feels like dead weight today,” is a phrase Dillon has heard from the occasional paleo client.

Time your pre-workout snack wisely

When you’re choosing what to eat, also consider how long it will be until you exercise.

If you’re eating hours in advance of your workout—say, two hours before a soccer game, says Soolman—you can have a well-rounded meal, since “that’s a pretty good amount of digestion time,” says Soolman. (Think: carbs, protein, and fat.)

An hour before your workout, says Soolman, you should be thinking more about “a ratio of food heavier on carbs. Protein and fat could slow digestion and make you not feel great during the workout.” Consider yogurt, which yes, has protein and fat, but is heavy on carbs, or a couple pieces of fruit, he suggests.

Immediately before a workout, says Soolman, “we’re thinking pure carbs: maybe juice, Gatorade, saltines, pretzels, a piece of white bread—something to digest and absorb really quickly.” He adds, “when you’re about to do a workout, you don’t want to do necessarily something that’s high-protein or high-fiber.” Complex foods can cause stomach issues, depending on the workout. (Again, says Soolman, there’s always an exception, including the ultra-marathoner Dean Karnazes, who famously ate a whole pizza while running.)

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Be adventurous

“People think, ‘bananas, protein, sport drink,’ which I think is fine, but could also get really boring,” says Dillon. “Don’t be afraid of a bagel with peanut butter on it or chocolate milk. Things that feel appealing any time could also be very energizing for your sport.”

As opposed to getting hung up on which snacks are “healthy” (which can feel “loaded and ambiguous”), make sure 1) you’re getting enough food; 2) you have something you can snack on halfway through a long workout; and 3) you don’t discount options just because they seem odd, says Dillon. She has seen people have success with grub as eclectic as grilled cheese sandwiches, trail mix, and yes, that Frosty, which she says is “absolutely” not a problem. “ts fat will keep it in your stomach longer” on a long run, she says—and that means more energy.

Stay hydrated, too

“Make sure you listen to your body,” says Dillon. “When you’re thirsty, make sure you have some .” She reminds us that it’s better for the body to sip on water throughout the workout (and beforehand, and after) than to drink a lot at once. And a good general rule of thumb, she says, is that “a person working out for 45 minutes should make sure to stop and get some then” to replenish the fluid you’ve lost through sweat.

RELATED: 5 DIY Sports Drinks to Help Keep You Hydrated

Don’t exercise hungry

There are definitely various schools of thought on this point, but Dillon is not a fan of exercising hungry: “Rumbles of hunger will put your energy level in toilet.” She suggests bringing something with you that you enjoy, such as a granola bar or trail mix, just in case. Allow yourself to experiment, too, she says. Really listen to your hunger, and provide for yourself. And sometimes a lack of snacks isn’t the culprit: “Sometimes the best way to provide nutrition with sport is to make sure we’re eating more nourishing meals throughout the day,” she says.

Go ahead and eat mid-workout

Again, like the pizza-eating ultra-marathoner, it’s OK to snack as you go. Around the 30-minute mark of a high-intensity workout your glycogen store will get depleted, says Dillon. “Having a snack within half an hour of that exercise is something that’s traditionally recommended. Some people need it further out; some people won’t want one.” Experiment, and recognize your own needs.

If you’re running long distance, try carrying quick-to-digest energy in the form of gels, Gatorade, or whatever works for you.

Consider these options

Below are a few suggestions from Dillon to get you started. But both dieticians agree that you need to find what works for you. (Some of Dillon’s ideas, for example, such as peanut butter on a bagel, might be too heavy for high-impact workouts.) So experiment, get creative, and be OK with what works for you.

A half hour before a low-intensity to medium-intensity workout, try…

A handful of Dates

Nature’s Made Crunchy Granola Bar

Oatmeal with fruit

A piece of toast with nut butter

Dried fruit

An apple or pear

Graham crackers

One hour before a longer, endurance workout, try…

A bagel with peanut butter

Pineapple and cottage cheese

Peanut butter Toast

Turkey-avocado wrap

Pita with tuna salad

Chocolate milk

A bagel sandwich with egg

A sliced apple with cheese on crackers

Greek yogurt with granola

Egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwich

Q: What’s the best snack to eat and how long before my workout should I eat it?

A: In general, you don’t need to eat before exercise unless you tend to run low on energy during your workouts or it’s been more than a couple hours since your last full meal.

The best time to eat is about 30 minutes before you begin to exercise, and the best snack is one that combines carbohydrates and protein (with an emphasis on the carbs). And you don’t need a lot of food. Protein isn’t a fuel for exercise, so you don’t want to overdo it. For carbs, aim for the equivalent of a half bagel or a large banana; for protein, consider a couple tablespoons of peanut butter or a small cup of yogurt.

To get both if fresh food isn’t an option, look for energy bars with 25 to 40 grams of carbohydrates and about 10 grams of protein. Steer clear of caffeine and warm fluids, which tend to speed food through your intestine, as well as dairy and high-fat or high-fiber foods, all of which can upset your stomach, slow down the absorption of carbs, and leave you feeling sluggish.

You should also stay well hydrated and avoid super-high-calorie snacks because you might end up consuming more calories than you burn off.

Rich Weil, MEd, CDE, WebMD Fitness Expert

Knowing how to fuel your workout for the best results — preferably without getting a stitch — can be a difficult one and differs from person to person. While some people like to get up at the crack of dawn and do a fasted workout, this isn’t for everyone and if you’re going midway through the day, then you’re going to want to eat beforehand and pack in some pre-workout foods. You’re also going to want to eat right, so that you can get through your workout without feeling sluggish from too much, or lethargic from too little. Read on to discover some excellent eats to leave you ready for anything the gym throws at you.

Pre-Workout Foods

1.Bananas

Bananas are a great source of natural sugars, simple carbohydrates, and potassium. In the body, potassium is only stored for a limited amount of time, so try consuming a banana around 30 minutes to an hour before your workout. Eating a banana pre-workout is the perfect way to boost your glycogen stores and increase blood sugar levels — you can add some peanut butter for that extra protein boost.

2. Chicken, Rice & Vegetables

The stereotypical healthy meal: chicken, rice, and vegetables. This is actually a classic pre-workout meal. By combining a good source of lean protein and complex carbohydrates, this meal can provide amino acids to promote anabolism (muscle growth) and a slow-releasing source of energy. Consume a meal like this around 2-3 hours before a workout.

Check out this barbeque chicken recipe to spice up your rice.

3. Protein Bar

If you’re on the go and looking for a quick top-up before the gym, then a protein bar is a great option. There are lots of options out there, but in terms of a pre-workout snack, you want to fuel your workout as well as boost your protein intake. Look for one with some carbohydrates too to offer a good balance of energy. A protein flapjack such as Oats and Whey would make a good pre-workout as it contains protein, contributing to muscle mass as well as oats — a complex carbohydrate that’ll have you trampling the treadmill for hours. The low-sugar content is an added bonus for those watching their waistlines too. Eat around an hour before you workout to optimise your workout energy.

4. Porridge and Oatmeal

Porridge makes the ultimate pre-workout breakfast. This pre-workout food contains complex carbohydrates and is also a great source of the soluble fibre, beta-glucan. By consuming oats around 2 hours before a workout, you’ll be able to satisfy your hunger throughout, whilst getting a great source of slow-releasing energy. Try adding a scoop of protein powder or a blob of peanut butter to your porridge too — that way you’ll also get a great source of protein and amino acids.

5. Fruit Smoothies

Many people think fruit smoothies are great tasting and super-healthy. Whilst smoothies do provide a series of micronutrients that are beneficial for health and well-being, they’re also full of sugars, including fructose. This means that smoothies are often high in calories and what are often mistaken as drinks are actually meal replacements. However, consuming a fruit smoothie pre-workout is a great meal option that can provide you with a good source of fast-acting glucose. Add some protein powder to max the benefits of your pre-workout smoothie.

6. Wholegrain Bread, Sweet Potato and Brown Rice

Wholegrain Bread, sweet potato, and brown rice are great sources of complex carbohydrates that should be consumed around 2-3 hours pre-workout. Combining these foods with a good source of protein means you’ll get a good source of slow-releasing energy to fuel you throughout a whole workout. Carbohydrates should be consumed by all those physically active, but in particular, those who carry out regular endurance activities such as cycling and running.

Try these loaded sweet potato toast ideas for a tasty pre-workout.

7. Apple Wedges and Peanut Butter

Enjoying sliced apple wedges with a small spread of peanut butter is one of the tastiest and easiest pre-workout foods. This is a great option for those who are on a calorie restricted diet and are watching their carb intake. The added crunch-factor will satisfy any cheeky cravings while still providing you with protein from the peanut butter and plenty of nutrients from the apple. It’s perfect for consuming around 30 minutes before a workout.

8. Omelette

If you’re into your foodie fitness, then there’s no way that could get by without some form of eggs on a daily basis. Although eggs contain a certain amount of fat, omelettes made using whole eggs or just egg whites are a great source of muscle-building protein and amino acids. Omelettes should be consumed 2-3 hours before a workout to avoid muscle catabolism and promote muscle growth — for added nutrients, add some greens such as spinach or kale to make the most of this meal.

9. Homemade Protein Bars

We listed pre-made protein bar options earlier, but if you’re into your baking, then give some homemade bars a go. Homemade protein bars are super easy to make and are top of the list for on-the-go pre-workout foods. What’s more, you can control the content making bars that are high in carbohydrates and protein or low in carbohydrates and high in protein. You can add everything from nuts and seeds to dried fruit and a sprinkle of chocolate — just watch the sugar content.

These easy 4-ingredient strawberry and cream protein bars will have you racing through your workout.

10. Protein Shakes

Last but not least, protein shakes. If you’re on the go and in a hurry, then a quick protein shake can solve your pre-workout problems. A good quality shake will contain plenty of nutrients and you can mix a few more bits and bobs in, such as BCAAs to really make your shake pack a punch. By consuming a shake with a good source of fast-releasing protein, such as whey protein, with simple carbohydrates like maltodextrin powder, you can get all the pre-workout nutrients you need in a matter of minutes. Sip on a shake around an hour before your workout to maximise your gains.

Try this energising homemade pre-workout shake to charge up your workouts.

The Benefits Of Eating Pre-Workout Foods

So now you know what to eat before your workout, let’s talk about why you should be eating it. Many people carry out what’s called fasted cardio, in an attempt to burn and lose body fat, but unless you’re carrying out this cardio from 6am – 7am, you need to fuel your body before each and every workout.

Ultimately, you should picture your body like a car – you can’t expect to drive 150 miles with no petrol in the tank, can you? If you’re looking to perform and train at your best, you need to make sure your body has enough fuel to do so. If you fail to provide yourself with the energy and nutrients required during exercise, the chances are you won’t see results as quickly as you should. Plus, over a long period of time, the likelihood of becoming ill or injured will be increased if you don’t eat the right pre-workout foods.

Here are some of the reasons you want to fuel your body right to smash your fitness potential:

1. Give You More Energy

Our bodies use carbohydrate stores (glycogen) as the first source of fuel. This is because they can be converted into ATP (Adenosise triphosphate, i.e. energy) faster than protein and fat. Therefore, filling up your glycogen stores pre-workout will mean you’ll have more energy to perform at your best.

2. Prevent Muscle Breakdown

When we exercise, glycogen stores are quickly used up and depleted, so the body looks for new sources of energy – our muscles. By breaking down hard-earned muscle, the body can utilise protein in the form of amino acids for energy. This puts our bodies into what’s referred to as a catabolic state, meaning that the muscle tissue is being broken down, which can prevent muscle growth and recovery.

3. Increase Muscle Growth

Eating the right foods pre-workout means you won’t only top up your glycogen stores, but by eating a good source of protein, you’ll also be able to create an environment in your body which promotes the building of muscle mass. This is known as an anabolic environment.

What and When to Eat Pre-Workout

In every meal, you need to consider the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fats. You also need to consider the ratio in which you are eating them.

Pre-workout, it’s best to avoid too much fat. This is because, although high in energy with 9kcal per gram, fats are slow-digesting. This means, instead of making you energetic, they can actually make you feel sluggish and heavy.

Pre-workout meals containing protein provide us with a major benefit – the prevention of muscle catabolism. By consuming a good source of protein before a workout, you can give your body the amino acids (branched-chain amino acids in particular) that it needs to prevent muscle breakdown, whilst aiding muscle recovery and growth.

There are two types of carbohydrates: simple, high glycaemic index carbohydrates, and complex, low glycaemic index carbohydrates. But which one is best pre-workout?

This ultimately depends on your goal and the time of your pre-workout meal. Simple carbohydrates are great for 30 minutes to an hour before a workout, as they provide the body with fast-acting glucose as fuel. However, complex carbohydrates also play a role within energy metabolism. By consuming low GI carbohydrates around 2-3 hours before a workout, you can give your body a slow-releasing source of energy. This means you’ll be able to work out for longer and be less likely to have a dip in your blood sugar levels in the middle of your workout.

Maybe you’re worried about eating too soon before a workout and feeling sluggish, or maybe too early a crashing before you even tie up your trainers. Follow these simple timing guidelines to get into gear:

30 Minutes to an Hour Pre-Workout consume light meals and foods which contain simple carbohydrates and some protein.

2-3 Hours Pre-Workout consume a meal around 400- 500 calories containing a good source of protein (around 20g) and complex low GI carbohydrates (20-30g).

Take Home Message

Whatever pre-workout foods you decide on, make sure that it packs a nutritional punch. Crack on with the carbs and protein and make sure that you include other nutrients too, so that your body can go full throttle without a breakdown. There are so many tasty options out there, so be creative and keep yourself motivated with the many delicious dishes to fuel your workout the right way.

Enjoy this article on the top 10 pre-workout foods?

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Whether you are squeezing your workout in before your workday starts or you go straight to the gym from the office it’s important to have food on hand that is portable but will provide you with the right balance of nutrients to properly fuel your workout. These low calorie pre-workout snacks will give you the energy you need to power through your workout and achieve optimal results without feeling too full or sluggish!

What you eat before your workout is very important and what you put inside your body will determine the results you acheive from all your hard work. To maximize you results here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to pre workout nutrition.

1. Carbs are your friend. Our body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose which provides us with the energy we need to power through an intense workout. Simple carbs (fruit for example) are the best type of carb to consume pre-workout because they are digested quickly and will provide energy fast.

2. There’s power in Protein. Protein is essential for helping both build and repair muscle. Including small amounts of protein pre workout is clutch when it comes to maintaining or building lean muscle – especially when weight training.

3. Stay hydrated. Your pre workout snack should always include a side of good ol’H2O – without going overboard of course. Nobody enjoys doing burpees with a tummy full of water! I recommend starting with 16oz 2-3 hours before your workout and another 8oz 20-30min before your workout and then sipping as needed throughout your sweat session.

4. Timing is everything. If you only have a small window of time to get in a bite before your workout I would suggest a small snack (100-150 calories) 30-60 minutes beforehand. If you have time for a more substantial, well balanced meal then you could have this around 2-3 hours beforehand. This of course, will vary for each individual so you may need to experiment to see which timeframe works best for you.

Here are my top 5 go-to pre-workout snacks.

1. Banana & PB Poppers
Delicious natural peanut butter sandwiched between 2 banana slices for on-the-good goodness.

2. Homemade Protein Bar
I tend to avoid the store bought versions because they typically include a ton of unwanted artificial ingredients. Here’s one of my favourite homemade recipes to try instead: Homemade Chocolate Protein Bars

3. Apple & Cheese Slices
You can’t go wrong with this combo. A crisp juicy apple and a few ounces of cheese will give you a quick dose of energy to power through your workout.

4. Protein Shake
Blend up a scoop of your favourite protein with a handful of frozen fruit and water. If you are on the go and don’t have access to a blender use a protein powder that mixes well just with water and grab a piece of fruit for on the side 🙂

5. Rice Cakes & Hummus
A nice light snack that won’t leave your feeling “heavy” but will help you power through and finish strong.

It’s important to remember that everybody’s body and preferences are different. These are just a few pre-workout snack ideas that work well for me and many of my clients. If you have a go-to snack that your swear by to power you through even the toughest of workouts comment below and let me know!

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Honestly, pre-workout drinks sound kind of awesome: Down a drink before exercising, get a boost of energy from said drink, burn extra calories—and ultimately, lose more weight.

Not to mention your fit Instagram friend swears by them (cue all the pre-workout drink pics). But can these exercise-enhancing, weight-loss-boosting drinks actually do what they claim? And uh, should you even use them in the first place?

Hold on, what exactly are pre-workout drinks?

Pre-workout drinks (or “pre,” as many call it) are essentially supplements—usually sold either as powders or pre-mixed drinks—with ingredients meant to help enhance your workout when taken beforehand.

“The purpose of almost all pre- workouts is to increase energy, focus, and stamina levels, making it possibly easier for you to both crank through a workout and to give 100 percent at the workout,” says Pamela M. Nisevich Bede, R.D., nutrition consultant for Swim, Bike, Run, Eat and co-author of Run to Lose.

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Bede says the most common ingredient is caffeine. “Caffeine is well-researched and known to increase focus, stamina, and reduce perceived exertion—a.k.a. make the workout feel easier,” she explains. “Nitrates are also common—they increase vasodilation, improving blood and oxygen flow to working muscles.”

The ingredient list could also include beta-alanine, an amino acid. “I view beta-alanine as an ingredient that allows for one more rep or one more sprint, effectively allowing you to get more from your workout,” Bede says.

Obviously, you’re meant to take these supplements before you start working out—not after. The idea is to take them 30 to 60 minutes prior to get the best (i.e., energy-boosting) results, says Torey Armul, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Interesting…so can they help you lose weight?

The short answer is maybe. Because the blend of ingredients is meant to turn up your drive, you may work at a higher intensity during exercise, which burns more calories during the session, as well as afterward, says Carwyn Sharp, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., chief scientific officer for the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Armul agrees: “Properly fueling a workout can help you lose weight,” she says. “That’s because having available glucose stores can prolong the intensity and duration of your workouts, both of which control calorie burns.”

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While pre-workout drinks are relatively new and therefore haven’t been studied much, one 2018 review in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that pre-workout may help with muscular endurance (working stronger for longer) and continuous use did change people’s body composition by increasing lean body mass (which means less fat).

The catch: While these pre-workout drinks seem safe, they haven’t been studied over the long-term, so more research is needed to 100 percent say there are no real side effects.

In fact, Armul suggests fueling with real food rather than pre-workout (half a banana and a cup of coffee, for example, can provide most of the same stuff—and is more nutritious).

So, should I try pre-workout drinks…pre-workout?

In term’s of safety, you’re probably in the clear to try them out. But again, Armul says you’re likely better off with real foods as a snack about an hour before your workout. “A pre-workout mix can’t do anything that real food won’t do. And real food does it better,” she says

Fitness expert Chris Ryan, C.S.C.S., says traditional java offers the best bang for your buck. (He’s talking plain black coffee—nothing with added sugar or milk, which can negate any additional calorie burn.) Coffee can stimulate your metabolism and can help you run a bit faster (think shaving a few seconds off per mile) and lift a bit heavier. Aim for a small coffee and drink it 30 to 60 minutes before a workout to reap those small (but ultimately significant) gains.

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Another thing to note: Like any supplement, pre-workout drinks are not regulated by the FDA so there’s no government body that checks the label or what’s inside. “Don’t believe everything you read, because the FDA does not regulate their marketing claims or their ingredients,” says Armul, who adds that they could even contain illegal substances in some situations. One red flag: The words “proprietary blend,” according to the previously referenced 2018 review—that term forces buyers to guess exactly what ingredients (and how much of them) they’re getting.

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Also important: You can overdo it. “Too much of a good thing can also make you feel jittery, nervous, heart racing, or even ill,” says Bede. “ don’t usually supply energy in the form of calories or carbs—the ‘energy’ comes from the stimulants. Most people should avoid consuming more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. If you have a caffeine sensitivity, it’s especially important for you to watch your intake or skip these altogether.

A smart strategy if you do want to try pre-workouts: “Start slow and read the label,” Bede says. “Grab a trusted brand and don’t take a full dose (or two or three) until you know how it may affect you.”

The bottom line: Pre-workout drinks might be able to boost your performance—possibly leading to weight loss—but no better than a nutritious snack before the gym would.

Jessica Migala Jessica Migala is a health writer specializing in general wellness, fitness, nutrition, and skincare, with work published in Women’s Health, Glamour, Health, Men’s Health, and more.

Best Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks for Every Workout

Post-workout snack: Tart cherry juice smoothie with fresh ginger and whey protein

Studies suggest that ginger and tart cherry juice help decrease inflammation and soreness after a hard bout of exercise. Spano recommends adding 30 grams of whey protein, which she says will give your body the right mix of amino acids to ignite muscle protein synthesis and growth. (Also try Emma Stone’s post-workout protein shake recipe.)

Athletic Yoga

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Pre-workout snack: Smoothie made from 1 piece fresh fruit or 1/2 to 1 cup frozen fruit, 6 ounces plain yogurt, and 4 ounces milk or unsweetened almond milk

Not only is it light, sweet, and hydrating, but fruit will also help fuel you through sweaty, vinyasa-style yoga, Lakatos says, by providing much-needed carbs to your muscles and brain so your body doesn’t dip into your liver glycogen stores to recruit energy. The yogurt and milk contain calcium, which helps with muscle contraction, and as well as protein if you use dairy products. As a bonus, this chilled smoothie will help cool your body so you begin your workout feeling refreshed. (Read up on how to make the perfect smoothie every single time.)

Post-workout snack: 1 orange and 1 hardboiled egg

Oranges are packed with water and potassium, which work together to help you rehydrate quickly after sweating out lots of H2O. The fruit’s carbs will replenish energy while the egg’s protein help muscles repair. Choose eggs that are omega-3-enriched (like Eggland’s Best eggs) or organic and free-range since research shows those fatty acids may play a role in preventing the inflammatory damage caused by exercising.

CrossFit

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Pre-workout snack: Fresh beet and peach or nectarine salad

Although fellow CrossFitters will cheer you on as you push through your workout of the day, the sessions are still exhausting. Some beets beforehand will increase nitric oxide production in your body, which dilates blood vessels to accommodate greater blood flow to your hard-working muscles. Peaches or nectarines add additional healthy carbs for more energy-and their sweetness pairs perfectly with earthy beets.

Post-workout snack: Omelet made with 2 whole eggs and 3 egg whites with sautéed onions and red bell peppers, plus a bowl of chopped fruit (including pineapple)

Eggs are among the foods highest in leucine, “the spark plug that triggers the synthesis of protein in muscle,” Spano says, and using a few whites keeps the calories under control. Fold in red bell peppers for vitamin C, a nutrient essential for maintaining the healthy cartilage you need to cushion your bones during all those box jumps. Serving your omelet with pineapple gives you the enzyme bromelain, which may decrease inflammation in the body due to exercise-or if you knocked into equipment or another Crossfitter-though the research is inconclusive.

Sprints or Shorter-Distance Running

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Pre-workout snack: 1 slice whole-wheat toast with jam

Spano recommends eating a very light and easy-to-digest carbohydrate snack a few hours before running sprints, downhill, hills, or hurdles so those carbs are ready to be used for activity. Toast with a thin layer of jam is perfect and super easy.

Post-workout snack: 8 ounces nonfat or lowfat chocolate milk

Your post-workout snack depends upon how much you train, Spano says. If you clock in only a few miles a week, she suggests a glass of chocolate milk. Chocolate milk does triple duty, according to a University of Texas at Austin study: It rehydrates, provides protein to aid in the repair of exercise-induced damage to muscle fibers, and offers sugar, a fast carb that’s beneficial in restoring glycogen post-workout. Vegans can enjoy flavored soymilk for a similar effect, Spano says, since it is high in protein.

Long-Distance Running

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Pre-workout snack: High-protein energy bar

A bar with around 200 calories, depending on how many miles you’re putting in, and at least 5 grams of protein will give you sustained energy, Spano says. She advises shying away from those containing ingredients that will work against you, such as sugar alcohols, glycerol, or inulin, which may cause bloating, cramps, and abdominal pain. (Here’s everything you need to know about how to choose the healthiest protein bar.)

Post-workout snack: 8 ounces nonfat or lowfat chocolate milk with whole-grain salted pretzels

When you’re running more miles, you need more than chocolate milk. Add the pretzels to replenish sodium lost through sweat and glycogen. (Training for a marathon? Use this dietitian’s tips for what to eat during marathon training.)

Bikram Yoga

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Pre-workout snack: 1/2 cup cooked freekeh with 1/2 cup fruit

Firm and chewy like bulgar wheat, freekeh is an ancient grain that’s low on the glycemic index, making for sustained energy instead of a spike and then drop mid-class. Top with fruit for additional energizing carbs and water to hydrate you. And if it’s been more than four hours since your last meal, add 1 tablespoon flaxseeds or chia seeds for extra protein and fiber, which provide staying power. (Also use freekah and other whole grains to make these grain-based salad recipes.)

Post-workout snack: Ginger or chamomile tea and 1/2 whole-wheat pita filled with 1/4 cup hummus and 1/2 cup spinach

The tea is hydrating and relaxing, so it extends your chilled-out state while assisting with fluid loss; drink it iced if you really want to cool down. The hummus sandwich also helps you recover better, Lakatos says, since the pita refuels lost glycogen stores and the hummus provides healthy fat to enhance the absorption of spinach’s fat-soluble vitamins A and K, which may help reduce the inflammation created by an intense yoga session.

Pilates

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Pre-workout snack: 2/3 cup berries and 6 ounces plain nonfat Greek yogurt

“The berries help fuel you with carbohydrates throughout your workout,” Lakatos says. But you need protein-packed Greek yogurt if you don’t want hunger to set in during the middle of doing hundreds-it will keep you satisfied longer, since it takes four to six hours to digest, while berries take about one to two hours, Lakatos explains. (In the mood for something savory? Try one of these savory Greek yogurt recipes.)

Post-workout snack: 1 red grapefruit, 30 roasted pistachios, and 1 glass water with lemon

After a Pilates session, it’s normal to feel peaceful, even if you’ve just worked hard in a megaformer class. Keep that feeling going with this combo of clean, whole foods. You’ll restore your body’s normal fluid balance thanks to potassium in the grapefruit and pistachios and a tall glass of agua, and the nuts also may fight post-workout inflammation.

Barre

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Pre-workout snack: 1/2 cup dried oats, cooked with almond butter mixed in

In order to pump out those butt-burning reps again and again all class long, you need carbs for energy, hence the oatmeal. Spano says to add almond butter to stay satisfied the entire time, plus it’s a source of magnesium, a nutrient that’s necessary for muscle contraction and relaxation, but that many women don’t get enough of, according to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study. (For a meal that’s ready ASAP, prep these overnight oats recipes in advance.)

Post-workout snack: Tofu scramble made from 6 ounces organic firm tofu and matchstick carrots and yellow bell peppers sautéed in sesame oil

“Soy protein is decently high in leucine, an amino acid that has been shown to increase the processes underlying muscle growth and repair,” Spano says. While it’s a hefty serving, six ounces of tofu will provide enough total protein post-workout since barre incorporates resistance training. (Also try these easy tempeh recipes which are soy-based too.) Add yellow bell peppers since many of us typically fall short on eating vegetables of this color, Spano says.

  • By Vanessa Voltolina

Figuring out what to eat before and after a workout can be such a struggle but it’s worth it. When it comes to a pre-workout snack, what you choose to put in your mouth is important. If you’re going to put the machine that is your body through the paces you want to fuel it first with proper nutrition. And no, I’m not talking about pre-workout supplements. I’m talking about real, delicious meals and snacks. The kind of foods you would enjoy anyway—and will enjoy even more when you know they’re helping you reach your fitness goals.

Of course what you eat after a workout is really important too. Indeed refueling after exercise gives your body what it needs to recover from the exertion and helps you build bigger, stronger muscles.

That means being thoughtful about what you eat before and after exercising will help you maximize the benefits of all your hard work at the gym. So what’s the best pre-workout snack? And what’s best to eat after a workout? As a registered dietitian, I recommend the meals and snacks below. Consider them a critical part of your training plan.

What to eat before a workout:

I counsel my patients to eat before exercise because I think it will give them the best chance to get the most out of their workouts. Not eating enough before a workout can make you dizzy, lightheaded, nauseated, or lethargic. It can also make you more likely to injure yourself. And even if none of these things happen, skipping food can negatively impact your performance and reduce your gains.

But I know that realistically you won’t always have the time (or desire) to eat before a workout. On nights when you’re scrambling to get from the office to your favorite studio for that 6:00 p.m. class it might feel impossible to squeeze in a snack on the way. And what do you do if you’re a morning workout person who doesn’t like to eat breakfast? (Psst: It’s fine not to eat breakfast despite all that most-important-meal-of-the-day talk.)

The truth is that for most people it’s OK to work out on an empty stomach (though I would not recommend doing so if you have blood sugar issues). So if you can’t even grab a protein bar or the idea of forcing down a bite makes you want to gag, that’s all right. But ideally you should fuel up before you work up a sweat—and definitely, definitely drink water before, during, and after. Here’s how and what to eat before a workout.

1. Time your pre-workout snack right.

The ideal time to eat is between 30 minutes to three hours before your workout. That way you’re not still digesting when you hit the gym floor, but you haven’t gone and used up all those helpful calories yet. Having said that, this can be customized. You may have to experiment to see which time frame does your body good. If you’re working out first thing in the morning you probably won’t be able to eat a whole meal before you hit the gym. A small snack or mini-breakfast should suffice.

I like to start sipping on this protein-packed green smoothie 30 minutes to an hour before I hit the gym and finish the other half when I’m done. If you are exercising later in the day, I recommend having a snack 30 minutes to an hour before your workout or working out two to three hours after a well-balanced meal.

2. Drink plenty of water.

It’s best to get your body hydrated before you even think about heading to the gym. One way to determine your overall hydration status is to check out the color of your urine first thing in the morning. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, lemonade-colored urine is a sign of appropriate hydration, while dark-colored urine (think apple juice) indicates a deficit in H20.

What to Eat Before Your Afternoon Workout

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It’s 5 p.m. — time to clock out and get ready to work out. But lunch was hours ago, and now you’re zombie-level starving. So, what’s the best snack to fuel your p.m. workout? Your pre-workout snack should definitely be carb-heavy, but it’s not that simple.

“First you need to ask yourself what your goal is,” says Chad M. Kerksick, Ph.D, an assistant professor of exercise science at Lindenwood University in Missouri.

Are you going to do cardio or strength training? Each objective calls for a different pre-and post-exercise snack strategy. So what should you eat?

“The type and amount of food will depend on what type of workout you plan to do, your fitness/health goals, and how long you have until your workout,” says Krista Maguire, R.D., C.S.S.D., and nutrition manager at Openfit.

And you don’t want to wait too long to get in your workout: “You should also be mindful of how certain foods or beverages (for example, caffeine) and exercise programs can affect your sleep.” (More on that later…)

How Far Ahead of Your Evening Workout Do You Need to Eat?

Let’s start with the timing of your meal or snack: There’s no hard-set rule on how far ahead of your evening workout you need to eat.

Maguire suggests figuring out how much time you have before your workout, then counting backward to determine how much, if anything at all, you should eat before an after-work sweat session starts.

“The main goals of eating pre-workout are to avoid hunger, delay fatigue, minimize gastrointestinal distress, and maintain hydration,” Maguire says. Here’s her down-to-the-minute guide to fueling before a p.m. workout:

If you have 30 minutes or so: “You could either skip the snack if you’ve fueled yourself well throughout the day and don’t have an intense workout planned, or if you’re hungry and low on energy, you can eat a small, easy-to-digest snack,” advises Maguire.

Choose a snack that has about 15 to 20 grams of carbs, like half of a large banana. “Be sure whatever it is, that it won’t cause digestive issues,” she says. (This isn’t the time for chips and salsa!)

Keep these next few suggestions in mind for tomorrow’s workout, if you can plan ahead:

If you have an hour: Maguire says you should still keep it pretty light and focus on carbs. Depending on how long ago you ate, your body may be running low on glycogen, especially if you’re following a calorie-restricted eating plan.

Just keep in mind it takes a few hours for food to digest and when you work out, blood moves away from the intestines and toward the working muscles. If you give your stomach too much to handle too close to a workout, you may experience some digestive issues.

A good snack choice would be around 150 to 200 calories — perhaps a slice of toast with a touch of nut butter or some yogurt topped with berries.

If you have two hours: “Bump it up a little bit,” she says. Focus on carbs, but don’t be shy to add a little bit of protein or healthy fats. A small bowl of oatmeal (even if it’s not breakfast time) with sliced banana and a few walnuts could hit the spot, or a pre-workout smoothie can easily hold you over and fuel your evening workout.

If you have more than two hours: If you have three or four hours before you plan to hit the gym, you can consume larger portions. “This would be more of a moderate meal than a snack,” says Maguire. (Refer back to this info when you’re planning your lunch and know you want to work out after work.)

A balanced meal with some complex carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats can fuel you and provide steadier blood sugar delivery so that your afternoon workout will rock.

Keep this general guidance in mind, too: “Depending on what the workout is and your goals, you should be mindful of what you’re eating at all times,” says Maguire. “However, earlier meals like breakfast won’t have a significant, direct impact on your evening workout.”

If weight loss is your goal, you’ll keep overall calorie intake in mind. “Perhaps shifting some carbs from breakfast to your pre-workout meal could not only help fuel your evening workout, it helps keep your daily calories in check,” says Maguire.

When you’re working on growing your muscles, the American College of Sports Medicine discourages working out on an empty stomach and encourages providing enough energy, including protein, to promote new muscle growth and repair.

“Pre-workout protein consumption isn’t as widely accepted in the science community, but post-exercise protein intake most certainly is,” says Maguire. You’ll want to aim for about 20 to 30 grams of protein post-workout, and keep those amounts in mind as a protein goal for each meal.

“In addition, if you have a big strength workout planned, you may want to increase your carbs at lunch to top off muscle glycogen stores,” she says. “For strength workouts, you don’t have to be as worried about high-fiber foods or healthy fats potentially causing digestive discomfort as much as you would for more jarring activities like running.”

No matter what your fitness goal is, you’ll want to make sure you’re eating enough during the day. “You don’t want to under fuel your body, so consuming well-balanced meals throughout the day will provide enough energy to fuel your workouts and help your body recover post-workout,” says Maguire.

How Many Calories Do You Need Before an Afternoon Workout?

Beyond the timing of your snack or meal, do you know how many calories you need before a p.m. workout? (It’s at least 100 to 150.) Your macro needs may differ depending on your activity and how much time you have to digest, but Maguire says you should “think mainly carbs for pre-workout snacks to help fuel you.”

Caloriewise, Maguire says you’ll need to consider your total daily calorie needs in addition to what you’ve had that day — and how long you have until you plan to work out.

“A good rule of thumb if you need a pre-workout bite is about 100 to 150 calories for every hour you have prior to your workout,” she says. “This doesn’t mean eat every hour, but figure out when you’ll work out, work backwards, and determine how big that snack should be or if you even need an extra snack at all.”

What about protein? “If you want, it can include a little bit of protein; however, research is insufficient as to whether pre-workout protein can help prevent protein breakdown during exercise or stimulate muscle protein synthesis post-workout,” Maguire adds. (After a workout is definitely the time to focus on protein.)

“Fat can often cause digestive issues,” she advises, so skip it or include minimal amounts in your pre-workout snack.

The Best Pre-Workout Snacks for Fuel

What are her favorite snacks to fuel an evening workout? Maguire shares these as some of the best snacks to fuel your p.m. workout.

  • Bananas
  • Yogurt with granola and berries
  • A smoothie
  • Oatmeal
  • English muffin with nut butter (add sliced bananas for more calories)
  • Homemade energy balls or bars
  • A hard-boiled egg sliced on top of avocado toast

If you’re about to rush out the door to work out (like, right now!), refer back to her suggestions for eating with less time to spare before a workout. After all, nobody likes bonking during a workout!

Your needs will vary depending on your workout, just as your goals likely would. Here’s how:

What to Eat Before an Evening Strength-Training Workout

When you’re focused on building muscle or burning fat, pre-workout fueling can get a little more complicated. The macro breakdown of what to eat before an evening strength-training workout “would vary depending on what stage you are in,” says Maguire, adding that your needs are different in the bulking versus cutting phases of a program, for example.

“However, the protocol is similar to cardio, as you want to be sure your muscles have enough glycogen to fuel your lifting,” Maguire says. In other words, before your evening workout is not the time to embrace the low-carb lifestyle. Carbs are “a primary fuel source, so they need to be there in adequate amounts,” adds Kerksick.

What to Eat Before an Evening Cardio Workout

Unlike with strength training, what to eat before an evening cardio workout is pretty straightforward most of the time. If you’re doing endurance or cardio activities (especially for over an hour), you want to keep your glycogen stores topped off, says Maguire. “Choosing carbohydrate-rich foods will help keep you fueled throughout your workout,” she says.

What to Eat Before Evening Yoga

What about less-intense workouts? Do you know what to eat before evening yoga? Down dog with a full belly is a mistake you’ll only make once! “For lighter activities like yoga, fueling isn’t as important,” says Maguire.

She adds two exceptions: “Hot yoga, where hydration must be considered, or power yoga that may require more stamina.”

Less is more when fueling before evening yoga. “Due to the twists, core-based postures, and breathwork (aka pranayama),” it’s often advised to have an “empty” stomach when you do yoga, says Maguire.

Instead, focus more on earlier meals: “I’d recommend focusing on eating a well-balanced diet throughout the day if you plan on taking an evening yoga class.”

How Can You Energize Your Evening Workouts?

You know that feeling of wanting to exercise, knowing you’ll feel great afterward, but having no energy to work out (especially after work). How can you energize your evening workouts without staying up all night? Caffeine has been shown to impact sleep even six hours before bed, so Maguire says to remember that “food is energy.”

The snacks she shared “should help without keeping you up late at night like caffeinated beverages,” she says. But caffeine affects everyone differently. “Some may tolerate caffeine at night without compromising sleep,” she says. “Also keep in mind that working out late at night may also be a culprit if you’re not getting quality shut-eye.” Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul!

Before your next after-workout exercise session catches you unprepared (aka hungry and tired), consider planning ahead and thinking about that all-important recovery phase, sleep. Here’s how exercise can help you sleep better, and then figure out when to stop eating at night (you’ll also find out what to eat before bed to set yourself muscles up for recovery while you rest).

The Bottom Line

What you should eat before an evening workout depends on the type of workout you’re doing and how much time you have. Keep it small and simple, embrace carbs, and you’ll be ready to crush your evening workout!

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6 Quick and Easy Pre-Workout Snacks

07 Mar 6 Quick and Easy Pre-Workout Snacks

Posted at 08:00h in Fitness, Healthy Eating, Meal Ideas by Toby Amidor

When I don’t eat properly before my workout, my energy dwindles and performance suffers leaving me frustrated. Now, before I hit the tennis courts or lift weights, I make it a point to fuel properly. It’s really amazing how eating the right foods before a workout can make all the difference in the world.

Timing Counts!
Many of us exercise early in the morning, during lunchtime or right after work. This usually means that your last meal was hours ago. To be sure your body is properly fueled, it’s important to eat 20 to 90 minutes prior to your workout. While it isn’t ideal to workout on an empty growling stomach, it can be equally uncomfortable with a full belly.

The 20 to 90 minute time frame is a big window. What works for you may be different than what works for your friend or colleague. While some people can eat something 10 minutes before exercising, others may need a full hour to feel their best. Try a few different options and play with the timing to see what works best for you.

The Perfect Combination
Stay away from heavy, high-calorie snacks and stick to something light. The ideal snack combo includes a source of low-glycemic carbohydrates and lean protein. Low-glycemic carbs will keep your blood sugar steady and ensure you’re fueled throughout your workout. Lean proteins provide your muscles with everything they need to endure the stress of exercise. Here are a few pre-workout snack ideas that will keep you energized without weighing you down.

Snack #1: 1 small apple and ¼ cup unsalted almonds
Both apples and almonds contain fiber, which will help keep you satiated throughout your workout. The apples also provide fluids, helping to keep you hydrated.

Snack #2: ½ cup oatmeal
Perfect for morning workouts, oatmeal provides quick burning fuel and the small portion won’t weigh you down. Cook oatmeal in water or skim milk and add a touch of honey for sweetness. If oatmeal isn’t your thing, a warm bowl of farina can also do the trick.

Snack #3: ¼ cup dried fruit
The natural sugar in dried fruit will give you a quick energy boost and is perfect for on-the-go snacking.

Snack #4: Fruit smoothie
Blend your favorite fruit, leafy green and coconut water for a hydrating, energy boosting pre-workout treat. Liquid calories are digested quicker than solid food so this is a good pick for those that don’t feel well eating too close to exercise. Be sure to keep portions to no more than 12 fluid ounces.

Snack #5: ½ cup nonfat or low-fat yogurt with ½ cup fresh fruit
This delicious combination of carbohydrates and protein will give you a quick boost of energy, but with enough staying power.

Snack #6: 1 brown rice cake topped with 1 tablespoon hummus
Healthy whole grains paired with a little protein are the perfect pre-workout combination.

You’re all geared up for a workout session – happy thoughts, perfect playlist, stylish workout clothes – but you forgot about one of the most important things: pre-workout fuel. Most of us are so focused on the workout itself that we don’t consider how a meal, or lack thereof, can affect our bodies during a workout.

While we could all guess that loading up on junk food, sweets or alcohol right before a workout isn’t ideal, there are some more surprising culprits on our what not to eat before a workout list. . You’ll learn that even if a food is actually “healthy” and ideal for weight loss or gaining muscle mass, it could be detrimental to your workout and leave you feeling worse than before.

What not to eat before a workout

Let’s address why pre-workout food matters so much. Exercise requires a large volume of blood to be pumped to your working muscles. That means that the blood flow to your stomachs is reduced during exercise, especially during intense exercise like 8fit HIIT workouts. Likewise, your stomach demands energy to digest food which drains the power from the rest of your body. Don’t get us wrong, when your belly starts to rumble before a workout don’t ignore it, but you also don’t want these two functions to compete thus forcing your body to work harder than it should.

Start your transformation todayGet your meal plan

Before we start listing the foods that are pre-workout-friendly, let’s look at which foods are best to avoid. As we just mentioned, our tummies shouldn’t work too hard when breaking a sweat. Foods that’ll require a lot of effort from your stomach (i.e. complex carbs and other high-fiber) are best kept for after a workout — or are best consumed two or more hours before a workout. These foods include:

Leafy greens

Greens are usually a great addition to any meal, but the greens’ fiber breakdown time can cause discomfort during exercise.

Legumes

Legumes like lentils, black beans, and chickpeas have both fiber and the carbohydrate “raffinose” — a combination that can induce bloating and discomfort.

Cruciferous veggies

Just like legumes, they contain fiber but also hard-to-digest sulfur.

Whole grain bread

Usually an exemplary choice at mealtime, the complex carbs in whole grains are a lot for the body to process.

Raw seeds

High in fat, seeds should be combined with other macros (carbs and protein) to avoid stomach discomfort. Avoid them before a workout if possible.

Good foods to eat before a workout

Now that you know what foods are best not to consume before a workout, let’s focus on some healthy pre-workout foods that’ll make you feel good and help you achieve your goals.

As you get closer to your workout time, carbs with a little bit of protein should be your main focus. If you only have one to two hours before your workout, keep your snack light (preferably under 200 calories, more if your goal is to gain weight or muscle). This mixed carb-protein snack will help you feel satisfied, energized and may also help reduce muscle soreness post-workout.

Snacks are always best consumed two to three hours before working out, but these foods are still ok to eat up to 30 minutes before a workout, is long as they digest quickly and easily. The less time you have, the lighter your food should be. Here are some healthy pre-workout snacks so you can fuel your body effectively:

Banana

They’re a great source of natural sugars, simple carbohydrates, and potassium. The natural sugars and simple carbs are broken down quickly, boosting your glycogen stores and increasing blood sugar levels. Go ahead and consume a banana around 30 minutes to one hour before your workout.

Smoothie

Consuming a fruit smoothie before exercising is a healthy pre-workout meal option that can provide you with a good source of fast-acting glucose. They’re super quick to make, just use your favorite sliced fruit and some Greek yogurt for protein and a thicker consistency. It’s best to make it yourself, but if you’re picking one up, just check the label to make sure it’s got wholesome ingredients and no added sugar.

Yogurt

Dairy with protein like Greek yogurt, quark or cottage cheese is great combined with naturally sweetened fruit before a workout. This healthy snack is easy on your stomach, and when paired with a small amount of nuts, will keep blood sugar levels from dropping mid-workout. Just remember not to consume too much of this snack — especially the nuts, because they take longer to digest.

Apple

Enjoying sliced apple with a bit of nut butter 30 minutes before exercising won’t harm your workout. It’s perfect f you’re craving something sweet because it has fiber to prevent that sugar crash mid-squat session, and it’s a surefire way to ensure you’re stocking up on necessary vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Rice cakes

They’re usually fat-free, which makes them quick-digesting, healthy pre-workout snack. Just make sure your rice cakes don’t have added sugar, then spread on a thin layer of some nut butter or hummus for a touch of protein.

Best post-workout meal for weight loss

Now that you’re all set on what to eat before working out, let’s have a look at some ideal post-workout meals that will promote weight loss should that be your goal. Go ahead and read Coach Jennifer’s article on what to eat after a workout so you know when a post-workout meal is necessary and when it’s not. If you fall into the category of needing a post-workout snack, here are some of our recommended combinations:

Banana and peanut butter

Try eating a banana covered in some peanut butter after a tough workout. Make sure you use peanut butter without additives like sugar, artificial flavorings or salt. As we already mentioned, bananas provide you with potassium, carbohydrates and (bonus!) magnesium, which play an are an important role in your body’s recovery. As for the nut butter, that stuff is full of essential proteins and healthy fat.

Baked sweet potato and egg

An egg and sweet potato scramble is a perfect post-workout meal for weight loss. Sweet potato and egg combined have a high biological value — meaning your body is able to absorb a high proportion of the nutrients and protein from the meal.

Cottage cheese with vegetable sticks

If you’re in the mood for a savory snack, plain cottage cheese is very high in protein and great paired with veggies like carrot, celery or cucumber. Cottage cheese also contains a lot of leucine, an amino acid that promotes muscle protein synthesis after a workout. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. This, in turn, results in more weight loss.

Quinoa salad

Quinoa is a great plant-based source of protein and is one of the best post-workout meal for weight loss. If you want an added kick of protein, mix in some beans and chickpeas. Make extra to enjoy for lunch the next day.

Omelettes or frittatas

Last up is protein-packed egg omelettes or frittatas with savory vegetables. We love our Mini Sweet Potato and Spinach Frittatas because you can make a large batch ahead of time and have them ready as a post-workout snack all week long. The eggs and sweet potato fill you up, and the nitrate in the spinach has been shown to enhance muscle fiber composition.

Important workout do’s and don’ts

Here are some final pointers so you always get the most out of your workouts.

  • Do fuel with healthy pre-workout snacks to keep you energized.

  • Don’t overeat or eat complex foods before a workout because they’ll leave you feeling sluggish.

  • Do get enough sleep the night before a workout because it’ll help you recover faster.

  • Don’t deprive yourself of sleep because if you do, your mind will give up before your body.

  • Do nap if you need it — 15 minutes should be enough to feel rejuvenated.

  • Don’t nap more than 30 minutes because it could make you more tired than before.

  • Do do some dynamic stretching to warm up and activate the right muscles.

  • Don’t do static stretches (i.e. holding positions for an extended period of time) as they can decrease your strength and lead to injuries.

  • Do fuel up on the supplements you usually take to reach your goals.

  • Don’t take a supplement you’ve never tried before as it might affect you mid-workout.

  • Do hydrate by drinking water to replenish the fluids you may have lost during a workout.

  • Don’t drink alcohol because it leads to dehydration and can affect your motor skills and coordination.

Remember, you can really set yourself up for success by fueling your body properly, hydrating with lots of water, and making sure that your body is well-rested. It won’t just allow your body to perform better, it will put you in a more positive mindset to tackle your workouts with and will motivate you to give it your all. Sign up for 8fit and start your customized workout plan today.

What to eat before a workout to lose weight and build muscle

Share on PinterestPeople should consume complex carbohydrates, such as beans, 2-3 hours before working out.

Carbohydrates are an essential energy source.

Consuming the right amount of carbohydrates before a workout will ensure that the body has enough energy to perform well.

This is true for people engaging in cardiovascular and resistance exercises, among other kinds.

However, different types of carbohydrates will have a different impact:

  • Simple carbohydrates: These are sugars that provide a rapid rise in energy. A common source of these carbohydrates is white bread.
  • Complex carbohydrates: These include fiber or starch. They provide a slower, more long-term source of energy. Whole-grain foods are a good source of complex carbohydrates.

Which type of carbohydrate is better in a pre-workout meal?

Complex carbohydrates have a number of advantages, for example:

  • Simple carbohydrates are short-term sources of energy. If a pre-workout meal includes too many simple carbohydrates, a person may feel a drop in energy before they finish their workout. Complex carbohydrates provide energy more consistently over a more extended period.
  • Complex carbohydrates are components of foods that tend to be rich in nutrients, such as beans. Simple carbohydrates are typically components of foods that have little or no nutritional value, such as chocolate bars and cakes.
  • Foods that contain complex carbohydrates have lower glycemic index scores than those that contain simple carbohydrates. A type of food with a low glycemic index score is unlikely to cause blood glucose levels to spike and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The body digests complex carbohydrates more slowly than simple carbohydrates.

To increase energy ahead of a workout, a person should consume complex carbohydrates 2–3 hours in advance, and any simple carbohydrates 30–60 minutes in advance.

Complex carbohydrate foods

Below are some examples of healthful foods that contain complex carbohydrates:

  • broccoli, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables
  • whole-grain pasta
  • beans
  • lentils
  • brown rice
  • oats
  • whole-grain bread

Fruits provide the best source of simple carbohydrates before a workout. Bananas are a popular choice, as they contain potassium as well as simple carbohydrates.

6 Great Pre-workout Snacks

Eating regularly throughout the day is essential for providing your body with appropriate fuel. But individual nutritional requirements can be quite different depending on your daily activities and exercise routines. Nutritional demands also differ based on workout duration and intensity (Mayo Clinic, 2010). One of the critical times to pay attention to your nutritional needs is prior to your workout. Inappropriate fuel for your exercise routine can result in the breakdown of muscle tissue and may even make you more prone to injury. This is especially true if you are a morning exerciser when blood sugar levels are typically at their lowest.

Ideal Pre-Workout Snacks

A pre-workout snack should include a good balance of carbohydrates for quick energy coupled with small amounts of protein to help build and repair muscle tissue and regulate the release of glucose in the blood. And by keeping these meals low in fat and fiber, you can help avoid common digestive problems such as cramping and nausea (Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition, 2009). A pre-workout snack could include:

Pair these mozarrella sticks with crackers for a great pre-workout snack.

Fuel up for your workout with one banana and 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter.

Give our delicious Blueberry Butter Smoothie a try!

Prepare your turkey sandwich with low-fat cheese and pair it with a piece of fruit.

These peanut butter-filled celery stalks covered with raisins are a fun way to fuel your body!

If you’re going to add mayo, go with light mayo! You can also pair the sandwich with fat-free yogurt.

Ensuring your body has the optimal nutrients at the right time may help to enhance workouts and minimize recovery time. And although there are standard nutritional goals, you will need to take into consideration your individual needs, time of day, and workout intensity to see what helps you personally feel and perform your best. It may be helpful to take note of how you feel during and after workouts in a food journal so that modifications can be easily made moving forward.

Healthy Should Be Enjoyable

Let’s face it, if something doesn’t taste good, we are unlikely to eat it—even if it is for the sake of good health. Therefore, your ideal pre-workout snack should be something you enjoy. The Healthy Living section of the ACE website offers a number of delicious recipes to help you get started. For example, during the week when you’re pressed for time, you may opt for this quick breakfast parfait made with non-fat yogurt (or cottage cheese) topped with in-season fresh fruit for an easy pre-workout combination of carbohydrates and protein. For the weekend warrior with a bit more time, blueberry-ricotta pancakes may just hit the spot. They are super light, tasty and once again offer an optimal nutrient profile to help power you through your routine.

Our Most Basic Nutrient

Another critical nutrient that is often overlooked is water. Before, during and after workouts, water is key to helping us avoid dehydration, which can negatively impact both athletic performance as well as recovery.

Hydration requirements vary individually, but general guidelines include the following:

-Ensure you drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two hours prior to your exercise.
-During your workout session, continue drinking 7 to 10 ounces of fluid for every 10 to 20 minutes of exercise.
-Follow up with 16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound of body weight lost during your routine.

Healthy snacks with just the right balance of nutrients that you enjoy eating coupled with proper hydration levels can really help enhance your performance, minimize abdominal discomfort and keep you on your game—even through the most challenging workouts.

Mayo Clinic (2010). Eating and Exercise: 5 Tips To Maximize Your Workouts.

Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition (2009). Eating Before Exercise: Nutrition Fact SheetEating Before.

15 Pre-workout Snacks You Can Buy At The Grocery Store

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When you need to fuel on-the-go, pick up one of these 15 Nutritionist approved packaged pre-workout snacks. They offer long lasting energy to help you make the most out of your workout.

In a perfect world, you would have time sit down for a well-balanced pre-workout meal two to three hours before exercise. But since you live in the real world with busy work and life schedules, grabbing a quick packaged snack before a workout is a much more likely scenario. Whether you choose to make something or grab and go, there are healthy options available to fuel your activity.

Pre-workout snacks are essential for making sure your body has enough energy for an impending workout. With the sheer number of pre-workout snacks on store shelves, it can be difficult to know how to pick one that is energizing and filling but not too heavy. You want the right type of energy for your workout, but you also don’t want to overdo it and feel sluggish and heavy.

Essentially, a pre-workout snack will be mostly carbs with just a little bit of protein.Snacks made with healthy carbs provide energy for exercise, while protein keeps you full and satisfied. Different types of workouts need varying types of fuel, so make sure you read the descriptions of the snacks below to know if it’s right for your routine.

This list of 15 pre-workout snacks have the right mix of nutrients, and you can buy them all at the grocery store. Because not everyone has time to make their own snacks from scratch!

(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything from this post, I make a small commission from the sale.)

CLIF Energy Bars

For activities that require endurance and stamina, such as marathon running, CLIF Energy have the ideal balance of fast-acting and long-lasting carbohydrates, fat and plant-based protein from delicious, organic ingredients like rolled oats. That mix of ingredients provides sustained energy to power you through a long and tough workout.

Dates

If you want something sweet without any added sugar, dates are the perfect pre-workout snack. They are naturally rich in simple carbs, which break down quickly to provide energy for a workout. Eating just two Medjool dates (the really juicy kind) offers around 100 calories and 30 grams of carbs, making it a simple and satisfying pre-workout snack.

Dried Fruit

Most dried fruit is just one ingredient– dehydrated fruit (some has added sugar, but I don’t recommend that kind). To create dried fruit, the water is sucked out, leaving a chewy shelf-stable product. Since many people tend to eat more pieces of dried fruit than fresh fruit, they end up eating a bit more natural sugar. But here’s the thing… natural sugars are nothing to worry about before a workout. And fruit is easy to digest and gets energy into your system quickly. So reach for 1-2 handfuls of dried apricots, raisins, mango, or any fruit you prefer.

Dave’s Killer Bread

This is my go-to bread brand because it’s packed with protein, fiber, and whole grains, all of which keep you full and energized during a long and tough workout. Since whole grains take a little longer to digest than simple carbs (like fruit), opt for a slice of Dave’s Killer Bread least 1-hour before a workout. My favorite variety is the 21 Whole Grains & Seeds because of the nutty texture. Top it with nut butter and enjoy before a workout!

RX Nut Butter Packets

Have a recovery workout planned? Believe it or not, during lower intensity workouts, like yoga, walking or light weight lifting, your body actually uses fat as fuel. For these occasions, nut butter packets make a great on-the-go fueling option. The RX Nut Butter packets also have plenty of protein from egg whites to keep you full.

Fage Greek Yogurt with berries

For strength training workouts, it’s not as important to fuel up with carbs immediately before a workout. That said, having some food in your stomach will definitely help maximize muscle gains. High-quality protein, like that found in Greek yogurt, provides the essential amino acid leucine, which can jump-start post-workout recovery.

Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal Cups

I’m a huge lover and oats, and I like that these portable cups are unsweetened and contain chia and flax seed. The oats provide long lasting energy for a workout, and you can add whatever fruit you like for a hearty breakfast. Heat it up with water or milk, and it’s ready to go in just a minute or two. If you prefer to make your own loaded oats, grab my recipe here.

Bare Apple Chips

Snacking on an apple before a workout is a fan favorite. But when apples are not in season or you don’t have time to grocery shop, Bare Apple Chips make a nice substitute. Made from just apples, these naturally sweet chips are great for when you want a little crunch and a lot of fuel. If you exercise after work, these chips do double duty as a healthy afternoon snack and fuek for your workout.

Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame

If you love a good edamame appetizer, but don’t have time to heat up the frozen kind, try some dry roasted edamame. It’s a nutritious snack that is crunchy and full of good-for-you carbs and protein.

Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop

Giant bins of movie popcorn and microwaveable popcorn with weird additives have given this snack a bad rap. But at its core, popcorn is actually a healthy whole grain. You can easily air pop it at home and add your own toppings, or pick up a bag of Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop. The original has just popcorn, sunflower oil and salt, with just 35 calories per cup. The whole grain provides carbs to power you through a workout, and it’s fun to eat!

Wasa Crackers

Filled with healthy whole grains, these crackers are packed with complex carbs, which take longer to digest and keep your body going during a tough workout. They come in a variety of flavors, and I usually top them with some nut butter or Greek yogurt.

Biena Chickpeas

If you’re a crunchy snack lover (like myself), you’ll love Biena Chickpeas. There are just three ingredients– fiber and protein packed chickpeas, sunflower oil and salt. Each serving has about 16 grams of carbs for energy and just 120 calories. That means they will fuel you without weighing you down. Or if you’re feel ambitious, make your own!

Mary’s Gone Crackers

Made with tons of seeds, these crackers have more protein, fiber and healthy fat than regular old saltines. That means they are a great option for an hour or so before a work and will keep you full for quite a while.

Honey Stinger Waffle

For quick acting carbs, you can’t beat a waffle with some honey. But who has time to whip up waffles from scratch? Instead, reach for these Honey Stinger Waffles, which were created to mimic the waffles sold to professional cyclists in Europe. They sandwiched honey between two waffle crackers for easy to digest fuel for tough endurance workouts.

KIND Simple Crunch

I had a friend in grad school who ran ultra marathons and swore by crunchy granola bars. That’s why I was so excited when KIND came out with their own variety. Each bar has just a few simple ingredients, with oats being the main fuel source. These are easy to eat, quick to digest and taste really scrumptious.

Nutrition

Part of having a good workout comes before you even step foot in the gym. Your body needs energy to perform well during your sweat session and nutrients to help your muscles recover after. Skipping meals is a no-no, but it might be hard to know what to eat depending on the time of day you work out.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! The following four snacks are perfect for any time of day and will provide you with sufficient energy to power through your training. Enjoy any of these options an hour before your workout!

Bananas: One of the world’s healthiest foods! They are rich in fast-acting carbohydrates, which serve as fuel for your workout. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, fiber, and b-vitamins – all great for lowering blood pressure, stabilizing blood sugar, and aid digestion.

Oats: A ½ cup of cooked steel-cut oats is 150 calories, 5 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fat, and 4 grams of fiber. This snack provides a steady release of carbohydrates into your muscles, therefore a steady energy supply throughout your workout. Add some protein powder to your portion for an added kick!

Dried fruit: Need a quick energy boost? Simple carbs will give you that instant boost you need. Dried cranberries, pineapple, and bananas are our favorites. All you need is ¼ of a cup or a handful before your workout.

Greek yogurt: Yogurt is a solid option that’s light on your stomach but gives you the energy you need. One serving contains almost double the protein as normal yogurt but about half as much raw sugar as regular yogurt. We call that a win-win! You can also add your dried fruit to your yogurt for a pre-workout parfait.

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