Proper fuel is key to a great workout, and choosing the right pre-workout foods is crucial to making the most out of your sweat session. Even if you’re doing something less intense such as mild yoga, you still need a little fuel in your system before you work out. Some foods can be hard to digest, while others may send your blood sugar soaring, so you definitely want to make a smart choice in what you choose to eat before a workout. Also, be sure to eat at least 15-30 minutes prior to working out so you have a little time to pre-digest your food. Try some of these pre-workout foods and be sure to share your favorites with us too!
1. Bananas and AB
Bananas and raw almond butter are two of the best pre-workout foods you can eat for an energized, sustained workout. Take ½ a banana and mash it with 1 tbsp. raw almond butter and sprinkle on a little cinnamon, which is great for keeping your insulin down and for digesting your food. Bananas are rich in potassium, a little fiber, B vitamins and water, which will help hydrate you and give you energy. Raw almond butter, not roasted which can be heavy on the stomach, is excellent for adding just a bit of protein, fiber and a tad bit of fat to prolong your fullness longer than eating just a banana. Raw almonds are also rich in antioxidants that ward off inflammation. This is particularly a great snack to prevent cramping and dehydration.
2. Fat Free Greek Yogurt with Berries
Fat free, plain Greek yogurt is an excellent pre-workout food due to it being rich in protein and B vitamins. Berries are great for inflammation and arterial blood flow, which makes them a great pre-workout food that is also fairly low in sugar. This combo will keep you sustained for hours without weighing you down and may even lead to a better fat burn at the gym due to the protein and carb combination. You can even blend this for a creamier treat if you wish.
3. Date with Almond Butter
One really easy pre-workout snack is to take one date, slice it open, remove the pit and spread in 1 tbsp. raw almond butter. Dates are one of the richest sources of potassium of all fruits, and they have 2 grams of fiber per date! Dates are rich in B vitamins, magnesium, manganese and Vitamin C, which all keep you energized and healthy during your workouts. Dates are naturally high in sugar, so you only need one to get the benefits and long-lasting energy provided in this powerful fruit. Though they are high in sugar, they are also known for their ability to lower insulin levels and prevent weight gain by satisfying your sweet tooth. Adding in 1 tbsp. almond butter gives them just a bit more staying power and the fats from almonds may increase the uptake from the nutrients in dates, along with giving you a little healthy protein, fat and fiber.
4. Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seeds are one of the most popular pre-workout foods with good reason. These little seeds soak up 10-15 times their weight in water, so they keep you hydrated and energized for hours. To make chia pudding, I take ¼ cup chia seeds and add them to 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, then mix in a little cinnamon, stevia and 1 tbsp. unsweetened coconut flakes for flavor. Let this sit in the fridge overnight, then for 30 minutes on a counter top before you eat it. This creates a delightful porridge that is low GI, high in fiber, protein and antioxidants. Chia seeds are also rich in potassium, B vitamins and iron, which are also great pre-workout nutrients to prevent fatigue and low energy.
Most people digest oats fairly well, and they are known for their ability to sustain energy, prevent hunger and increase lean muscle mass. Oats have a little protein, mostly healthy carbs, magnesium, and B vitamins. All of these factors make oats a great pre-workout food. Mix 1/3 cup whole oats (not instant) with 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk and let this sit in the fridge overnight to create overnight oats that you can eat in the morning. Add in some raisin, flax or chia seeds if you like in 1 tsp. amounts for extra flavor and nutrition that won’t weigh you down and will digest easily. This powerful combo will keep energy levels high and fuel your muscles.
6. Raw Almonds and Raisins
Raw almonds are excellent sources of Vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, protein and healthy fats. In small amounts, they make a great pre-workout snack to keep you energized, sustained and satisfied. Raisins are high in potassium and natural sugars that energize your body and keep you hydrated to prevent cramping. They can be used immediately for energy, and their sugars are stabilized when paired with healthy almonds, so your blood sugar won’t spike. I recommend eating 10 raw almonds and about ¼ cup raisins for best results. A great on-the-go option is just to eat a 100 calorie pack of raw almonds and a mini box of raisins, which equal these same amounts.
7. Vegetable Juice
Vegetable juice is a rich source of antioxidants and nutrients that ward off hunger, fatigue, inflammation and best of all, it digests seamlessly. Good combinations include kale or spinach with celery or cucumber, lemon, ginger and carrot. This not only makes a tasty combination, but also has key nutrients for your workouts such as iron, B vitamins, Vitamins A and E, magnesium, Vitamin C, potassium, sodium and best of all- water! This high energy level drink will restore your immune system and lower your blood sugar. If you tolerate them, beets also make an excellent juice ingredient since they lower inflammation and can heighten energy. If you don’t have a juicer, you can simply blend these foods and squeeze the mix through a sieve, cheesecloth, or nut milk bag to separate the juice from the pulp.
These are just a few of the great pre-workout foods to choose from. Other popular pre-workout foods are hard-boiled eggs, Larabars, smoothies, protein shakes, and fruit. Choose whichever works for you! What are some of your favorite pre-workout snacks?