What to Eat Before Working Out

Blueberry Smoothie in a glassAfter a long day at work, eat­ing a por­tion-con­trolled snack, before hit­ting the gym, may be just what you need to boost your ener­gy lev­el and keep you from overeat­ing at din­ner.

If you plan to go to the gym at 6pm but had your last meal at 12 o’clock, your body is more in need of fuel than in need of an intense exer­cise ses­sion.  Plan to have your snack 2–4 hours before your work­out and choose snacks that are high in car­bo­hy­drates, mod­er­ate in pro­tein, and low in fat and fiber, for easy diges­tion.

If you only have a few hours before your exer­cise ses­sion, make your snacks small­er and eas­i­er to digest.  Basi­cal­ly, the clos­er your exer­cise ses­sion is, the small­er your snack should be.  Choose foods you’re famil­iar with and can tol­er­ate well.


Here are 13 healthy and well-bal­anced snacks that are quick, easy and healthy to boot:
  1. Half a PB & J sand­wich.
  2. Smooth­ie with fruit, non-fat yogurt and/or soy-milk.
  3. Half a turkey sand­wich.
  4. Frit­ta­ta-To-Go with an Eng­lish Muf­fin.
  5. Oat­meal with soy or non-fat milk with a banana or raisins.
  6. Low- or non-fat yogurt, cot­tage cheese or ricot­ta cheese with fresh fruit and fla­vored with cin­na­mon and sweet­ened with Agave nec­tar.
  7. Half a pita with avo­ca­do and a hard boiled egg.
  8. Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts.
  9. Pret­zels and fresh fruit.
  10. Cold cere­al with non­fat milk/soymilk and fruit.
  11. Fig New­tons with a glass of non­fat milk.
  12. Hum­mus with baby car­rots.
  13. Xoco­late Ener­gy Bars.

Although real food should always be your first choice for opti­mal nutri­tion, sports bars, gels and chews can be a good option when you don’t have time to pre­pare or pack a snack.  They are portable, don’t have to be refrig­er­at­ed and are easy to eat.

Also, it’s impor­tant that you stay hydrat­ed, espe­cial­ly when exer­cis­ing in the sum­mer and out­doors.  When you feel thirsty you’re flu­id lev­els are already too low.   Try to drink plen­ty of water through­out the day and if you can, through­out your work­out ses­sion. Be care­ful you don’t over­do it either. Over­hy­dra­tion can cause hypona­trem­ia, which means hav­ing abnor­mal­ly low blood sodi­um lev­els.  Hypona­trem­ia is dan­ger­ous and can be fatal.

When you are exer­cis­ing for more than one hour or you are exer­cis­ing in hot/humid con­di­tions, a sports drink with elec­trolytes can help you get the flu­id and elec­trolytes you need, see my post on hydrat­ing dur­ing exer­cise. Click HERE


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