Eating the right food before exercising is the key to maximizing performance and maintaining energy. It’s important to eat something at least two hours before a workout in order to prevent dizziness or from becoming lightheaded.
If you’re doing cardio or a strength workout, it’s even more important to eat foods that will provide you with enough energy. The right combination of protein and carbohydrates is crucial before exercising.
Protein is known for repairing and strengthening the body and is found in foods such as meat, fish, and eggs. It’s best to eat lean proteins that are low in saturated fats, such as chicken, salmon, or low-fat cottage cheese.
Carbs are also necessary for a pre-workout snack. Complex carbs are known for providing us with sustainable energy and are especially critical to intake before any sort of cardio workout.
Always try to choose complex carbs like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables over simple carbs like sweets. Keeping in mind the importance of carb-protein balance, I recommend these pre-workout snacks to keep you performing at your best.
1. Protein Smoothie
A protein smoothie is a great way to combine protein, carbs, and other nutrients into a delicious drink. Green smoothies are a favorite of mine. Combine spinach, blueberries, Greek yogurt, almond milk, and a scoop of protein powder for a delicious and healthy pre-workout snack that will give you enough fuel to make it through your exercise.
2. Whole Wheat Toast with Peanut Butter
Complex carbs provide us with glucose, which is crucial for maintaining our energy while we exercise; otherwise, we’ll crash. Whole grains are a good example of complex carbs and are easy to incorporate in your diet.
Whole wheat toast is a much better alternative to any type of white bread and will provide you with the carbs you need to stay awake during your workout. Add a layer of peanut butter on top and you have the perfect combination of protein, carbs, and healthy fat.
If you have more than an hour until your workout begins, oatmeal is a good meal choice. Oatmeal is a healthy grain that will give you a bit of energy to kickstart your workout or even your morning.
However, you still want to make sure that you’re intaking enough protein before a workout, so I suggest adding peanut butter to your oatmeal mixture or an array of nuts, such as pecans. Add a banana or some berries, a dash of cinnamon, and you have a tasty pre-workout treat that everyone will want as a daily snack.
You can also prepare overnight oats the day before and let them sit in the fridge so when you’re ready to exercise the next day, you already have a snack made and ready to eat.
4. Greek Yogurt
Out of all the yogurts, Greek yogurt is the one you always want to have in your refrigerator. Packed with vitamins, probiotics, and protein, Greek yogurt is another great pre-workout snack that does not have as much lactose as other yogurts.
On average, Greek yogurt tends to have about 17 grams of protein, making it a go-to source of protein before a workout, especially if you’re strength training.
I recommend adding some chia seeds to your yogurt for an extra boost of protein and some fiber. Toss in some granola and berries and you have a Greek yogurt parfait that will give you enough energy to finish your workout strong.
Before you roll your eyes at this one, hear me out. You may be surprised to find that people often forget to drink water before exercising. Most of us always drink water during and after a workout, but not necessarily before.
Hydration is significant for positive performance, so in order to prevent too much fluid loss, make sure to drink at least once glass of water right before you exercise.
Sometimes, we forget to eat properly before a rigorous workout, but it is truly a key factor in getting the most out of exercising. Try some of these recipes for your next pre-workout snack or have some fun experimenting with them. Remember: it’s all about the balance.