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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