5 of the best pre-workout foods

Emma White - Certified Personal Trainer | 02 Oct, 2022

Nutrition is vital for getting the most out of your workouts. Incorrect fuelling before you exercise can impact your performance and overall fitness gains.

While some people prefer to exercise in a fasted state, taking in some fuel before exercise can mean you have more energy to give to a tougher session – which can help you improve your fitness faster. I recommend aiming to have a little something to eat before exercising if you can fit it in – and as long as you don't suffer with gastrointestinal discomfort when doing so.

Key nutrients

As well as water for adequate hydration, carbohydrates and protein are the two most important nutrients pre workout. Prior to exercise, carbohydrates provide an all-important source of energy to help power your workout – carbs being our body's preferred source of fuel. And while protein is often considered most important post workout to help the recovering muscles – research does suggest that taking in protein before a workout can also be effective [1]. So, your pre-workout snacks ideally want to be carb heavy with some protein thrown in for good measure.

Aim to eat a couple of hours prior to exercise, but no closer than 30 mins before starting ideally – unless you're just having a handful of jellybeans!

Note: If your aim is to lose weight, just be mindful of calories and ensure any pre-workout foods are factored into your daily allowance. It's very easy to overcompensate when exercising and eat a large snack, which will wipe out any calorie deficit created by your workout.

5 great pre-workout food choices

Banana and yogurt

Banana and low-fat yogurt

Bananas are a great source of carbohydrates, with the addition of a yogurt adding extra carbs and some protein too. These two foods are also not too bulky, making them a good pre-workout choice to avoid feeling overly full.

Apple wedges and peanut butter

Apple wedges and peanut butter

Chopping up an apple and dipping the wedges in peanut butter is a great choice pre workout. You'll get carbohydrates from the apple and protein from the peanut butter, while keeping it light before exercise.

Crumpet with marmite

Crumpet with marmite

A quick and easy carbohydrate-filled snack with a little protein and salt provided by the marmite. The extra salt can be useful for those more sweaty sessions!

Fruit smoothie

Fruit smoothie

Blitz up a banana, some strawberries and low-fat yogurt for a quick hit of carbs and protein. Easy to drink on the way to your workout and quickly absorbed by your body, ready for exercise.

Toast with peanut butter

Slice of toast with peanut butter

This is another light and easy snack which hits the carb and protein goal. Wholemeal bread is best to create a slower energy release and avoid any spikes in blood sugar.

Click here for the best post-workout fuel ideas!

Emma White (Certified Personal Trainer) has always loved fitness. She's passionate about the many benefits of regular exercise, particularly the positive impact on mental health and overall quality of life, as well as how it provides the key to successful weight management.

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