There is nothing worse than going into your workout feeling tired and lacking the energy that you need. But if you eat the right foods, you can provide yourself with all of the energy that you will need to dominate your workout. It’s no secret that you probably want to get as much out of your workout as you can. Whether it is to spin faster, jump higher, train harder, or run quicker, without properly fueling your body, there is a good chance that your workout will suffer.
This is exactly why you are going to want to eat the certain foods that will help you prepare for your workout, essentially maximizing the effort you put forth while in the gym. Now keep in mind that everybody is going to have different nutritional needs, but when these foods (which contain a perfect balance of carbs, proteins and fats) will help to fight off hunger, give you energy, prevent fatigue, and even help with the recovery process. And the best part is that you can even start incorporating these foods into your pre-workout routine as soon as today!
Basic Pre-Workout Foods to Eat
While it is not advised by anyone at all to eat right before your workout, you are going to want to try and eat your snack or meal about 30-90 minutes prior to getting started. This will help you avoid any kind of bloated feeling that you may get from eating. If it is a meal on the larger size, you are going to want to wait the entire 90 minutes before getting started. If you are only having a snack though, waiting just 30 minutes until your workout should be completely fine.
While there are many different foods and supplements that you can take before your workout, here are some of the best.
- Bananas: More commonly referred to by some as nature’s power bar, bananas make a perfect pre-workout food as they are packed full of potassium and carbohydrates, which help to support your muscle and nerve function. On top of that, they are also a great source of energy to help keep you fueled through your entire workout.
- Oats: These are the perfect pre-workout food. Since they are packed full of fiber, there is going to be a slow, gradual release of carbohydrates over the span of time. This means that your energy levels are going to be kept more consistent through your workout, allowing you to train for a longer period of time, as well as harder. They are also a great source of Vitamin B, which is useful in the conversion of those carbohydrates over to energy. The best oats that you can eat before your workout are going to be Irish oats, as they have gone through the least amount of processing, as well as have a much lower glycemic index load when compared to the faster cooking instant oats. These are definitely something that you are going to want to add to your shopping list the next time you go to the store.
- Grilled Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Broccoli: While this is more of a meal than a particular food, the combination of grilled chicken, sweet potato, and broccoli is perfect if you are planning to do any type of intense circuit training, or if you are looking to build some muscle mass. As mentioned, this is more on the meal side of things as opposed to a snack, but there is a reason why so many professional athletes are eating this exact combination of food on a regular basis.
- Dried Fruit: If you are in need of something that is quick and easy, as well as being a great pre-workout food, dried fruit is exactly what you need. Simply have some dried figs, apricots, pineapple or berries and you will be good to go. This is because dried fruits are packed with simple carbs that can easily be digested by your body and used as fuel. What makes dried fruit even better is that they are on the ‘lighter’ side as well, meaning that they will not sit in your stomach weighing you down.
- Bread With Whole Grains: Eating bread that is made from whole grains is a great way to naturally get the energy you will need for your workout. In fact, just one slice of any kind of whole grain bread is going to supply you with all of the carbs you need to power through your workout. Just add a hard-boiled egg or some turkey and you have yourself a nice little protein-packed pre-workout snack.
- Greek Yogurt and Fruit: This combination is an absolute must for your pre-workout food. The combo of Greek yogurt and fruit are simply perfect together. The fruit is going to supply you with all of the carbohydrates that you will need, and the Greek yogurt is packed full of protein. In fact, when you compare most regular variations of yogurt to Greek yogurt, the Greek yogurt is going to have nearly double the amount of protein, way less carbs, and nearly half the amount of sodium. But why do these two go so well together? It’s because the carbohydrates from the fruits are easily broken down and used as fuel while you are working out, while the protein from the Greek yogurt will be stored a little bit longer, as well as prevent any kind of muscle damage from occurring. Because of this, Greek yogurt and fruit really are the perfect pre-workout snack.
- Trail Mix: While the nuts in trail mix does contain a higher fat content, they also provide you with the calories and protein that you need if your main goal for working out is to increase your muscle mass. However if your main goal is to lose weight, you are going to want to stay away from any trail mix. And just a tip, if you are planning on buying one of those premade trail mixes from the store, try to avoid the ones containing yogurt coated nuts or chocolate.
Now that you know what some of the best pre-workout foods you can eat are, what about eating for your specific fitness or weight loss goals? Depending upon your specific fitness goals, what you eat before your workout can change quite drastically. Here is what to eat for your pre-workout meal or snack based off your fitness goals.
Your Main Goal is Weight Loss
When you are trying to exercise to lose weight, you are going to want to have a continuous supply of fuel to keep your energy levels up, but you want to avoid packing on all of the extra calories that will prevent you from losing weight. So if your main goal is to lose weight, you are going to want to eat your something on the lighter side about 30 minutes before you workout. This will provide you with the maximum amount of energy. When you are eating, you are going to want to combine a lean protein with a complex carbohydrate.
- A banana with some type of nut butter, ideally almond butter
- Hummus with multigrain crackers
- A small handful of nuts or an apple with some type of nut butter
- ½ cup rice or pasta, ideally of the whole grain variety
- A whole piece of fruit
- ½ cup of regular oatmeal (not instant) with berries or raisins
Your Main Goal is Building Muscle Mass
If you are trying to build muscle mass, you more than likely want to stay lean while you are doing it. For this situation, what you are going to want to do is eat a smaller sized meal about 60 minutes prior to your workout. You want your meal to be light and not sit in your stomach when you are working out. If you can do this, you will have no problem seeing the muscle growth that you are trying to achieve. When you are making your meal, be sure that it is made of equal parts carbs and lean protein.
- Egg whites
- Various fruit that includes strawberries, apples, or oranges
- Whey protein
- Rice, either brown or long-grain white
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Oatmeal, ideally not instant
- Turkey or chicken
When you are trying to build your muscle mass, it is important to note that the timing and portion size are crucial in regards to your pre-workout meal. You are going to need to eat enough so that you have the energy to make it through the workout, but make sure that what you eat is light and won’t sit in your stomach and slow down your workout.
While it can be challenging to find the perfect combination of pre-workout foods that works for you, once you do you will have more energy and be able to achieve your fitness goals even faster. So be sure that you try different combinations of the foods listed above and see which works best for you.