The 5 Best Foods (and 1 Drink) to Have Before a Workout
Whether you like to get your workout in first thing or tend to hit the gym after the day is done, chances are that you’re not thinking too much about your pre-workout meal. But that’s a mistake, says personal trainer Lisa Reed. If you want your body to perform at its best, it’s going to need fuel (no, not a handful of M&Ms). Here are six snacks the pros recommend eating about an hour before your sweat sesh.
Peanut Butter on Whole Wheat Toast
“Have a slice of whole wheat bread or a banana with a spoonful of peanut or almond butter for an excellent combination of both carbs and protein before your workout,” says sports dietitian Angie Asche. The carbohydrates will give you energy while protein helps muscle growth. Top tip: Go for nut butters that list only “peanuts” or “almonds” on the jar to avoid unnecessary sugars and oils.
Grapes with Cheese
“Fruit contains energy-boosting carbohydrates that are easy to digest and enjoy,” nutritionist Lindsey Joe explains. “They’re also full of satiating fiber and phytochemicals.” (Hey, it’s hard to focus on doing one more lap when your stomach is rumbling like a lawn mower.) Her go-to pre-workout snack is a handful of grapes with some low-fat string cheese, or clementine oranges with a few unsalted nuts.
“A couple of dates pre-workout offers an excellent source of carbohydrates,” Asche says. These fiber-rich fruits will help keep blood sugar and energy levels stable. “You can eat them on their own or in an energy bar like Lärabar.” (We like the ultra chewy, tastes-like-dessert peanut butter and chocolate chip.)
If you find it difficult to eat solids before a workout, try a liquid energy boost instead. Protein shakes offer a good carbs-to-protein ratio and are easy to prep in advance and drink on your way to the gym. Reed’s favorite smoothie requires just three ingredients: ½ cup almond milk, one scoop of protein powder and ½ cup strawberries. Yummy.
“Bananas are loaded with carbohydrates and potassium, and make excellent snacks before a workout,” Asche tells us. Like protein shakes, they're also an excellent way to fuel up on-the-go. Just make sure to eat the banana strings, too.
“Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium, vitamin A and carbohydrates, and make a great source of fuel pre- or post-workout,” Asche says. But they’re also pretty filling, so this one’s best enjoyed one to two hours before a workout. (And you know, maybe save the sour cream and cheese for a post-workout reward.)