21 Best Foods To Eat Before A Workout (+ Bonus ‘Build-Your-Own’ Ideas!)

Everyone’s nutritional requirements are different, depending on their makeup, goals, activities and lifestyle. That’s why pre-workout nutrition is not a ‘one size fits all’ type of solution. That said, there are some fantastic snacks and meals that offer substantial and lasting energy, prevent sugar crashes, and provide the right balance of fats, carbs and protein, to curb hunger, fuel workouts and aid in recover…

Get an understanding of pre-workout nutrition so that you get the best out of your exercise!


Pre-Workout Nutrition

If you power through a one-hour workout session at the gym, it doesn’t end there – there’s actually a lot going on in your body for the next 24 hours. The body actually works to build muscle and recover over that period, which is why sensibly-timed snacks and meals that work with the body to burn fat and feed muscles will help you achieve your goals quicker. Because we’re looking at the whole 24-hour period, then everything you eat is relevant, but, for the sake of focusing on pre-workout nutrition, we’re looking at breakfast, and a snack 30 to 60 minutes before your workout.

Pre-workout smoothie

What To Eat Before A Workout

If you’re not an athlete, bodybuilder or training for a fitness competition, then the reality is, a healthy, balanced diet of nutrient-dense foods is actually perfectly sufficient for your everyday workout routine – provided you practice standard, regular exercise. Eating a healthy meal one to two hours before exercising and another one to two hour afterwards will generally provide you with the nutrition you need. Of course, there is more to it than that – for example, if you eat breakfast at 6am and want to work out at noon before lunch, then you will probably need a decent snack around 10am or 11am. And if you are an athlete or bodybuilder, then there are certain dietary requirements and nutrition plans you can follow, which can be discussed with a nutritionist or dietitian.


So, for the average person like you and me who exercises for general health, fitness, strength and mental wellbeing, the nutrition focus should be on quality and quantity. For you, the focus should be on getting the right balance of the six essential nutrients, identifying any nutrient deficiencies and eliminating them, eating the right portion sizes for your body type and energy expenditure, and, most importantly, developing a healthy relationship with food and exercise, that doesn’t involve food restrictions, guilt or bingeing.

Pre-Workout Breakfasts

If you like to get up in the morning and eat breakfast before exercising, make sure you can give yourself at least an hour to digest. Make sure you don’t fall for that old trick of eating breakfast ‘for the sake of it’, and choosing something high in sugar or refined carbohydrates, because that will increase your risk of a sugar crash or even fainting. Make sure you eat something with healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and plenty of vitamins and minerals. It’s a great idea to always try to include vegetables into your breakfast, because you want to eat plenty of veg throughout the day, so starting early will help you meet that target.

Foods to eat before a workout

Built-Your-Own: An excellent go-to option if you have a good appetite and crave something savory in the mornings is a poached egg and avocado. It is slightly time-consuming, as far as waiting for the water to boil, but if you have a small pot, it’s only about five minutes, and 10 minutes all up! Simply boil a small pot of water with a dash of white vinegar. Poach your egg how you like it, spread some avocado onto a thin piece of sourdough or rye toast, place the poached egg on top and season with salt and pepper! From there, you can add whatever is in season, or whatever you have in your fridge – raw baby spinach leaves, steamed curly kale or sliced tomatoes are all great options! For some extra fiber, you can sprinkle some mixed seeds on top, if you have them handy in your cupboard – for example, linseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds.

TIP: Once you’ve cut into your avocado, squeeze some lemon juice on it, wrap it in glad wrap and store it in the fridge to have again the next morning! About a quarter of a medium-sized avocado is a good portion to have on your toast, so you should be able to use the avocado over four days.

Blueberry Protein Pancakes – If you wake up with a sweet tooth, then these healthier, energy and protein-packed pancakes are a nutritious alternative to refined carb, sugary traditional pancakes. The recipe calls for oats, egg whites, cottage cheese, matcha powder, blueberries and maple syrup or peanut butter.

Chocolate Hazelnut Protein Muffins – Are you a fan of Nutella? If the answer is ‘yes!’, then this healthy version of the irresistible pairing of chocolate and hazelnut is for you. This healthy-enough-for-breakfast muffin can double as a snack if you are peckish half-an-hour before your workout and includes whole wheat flour, ground flaxseeds, baking powder, eggs, bananas, plain Greek yogurt, almond milk, vanilla and homemade chocolate hazelnut spread.

Choc hazelnut muffins

Omelet With Za’atar Sweet Potato Noodles & Tahini – This beautiful-looking and tasty omelet is packed full of nutrient-rich ingredients, including sweet potato (peeled and spiralized), olive oil, za-atar, protein, eggs, tahini, basil and salt and pepper. You’ll want a good appetite for this one or someone to share it with you!

Peas & Parsley Omelet – Here we have another wholesome omelet option with some delicious, nutritious greens. Omelets are tasty and look impressive, but they are actually very quick and easy to prepare. This recipe includes butter, peas, cheese, parsley, olive oil, eggs and salt and pepper to taste.

Peas and parsley omelet

Healthy Banana Muffins With Yogurt, Cinnamon & Chia Seeds – These low-carb muffins are refined sugar-free and come with a good dose of fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Ingredients include ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, stevia powder, Greek yogurt, maple syrup, bananas, vanilla, eggs and chia seeds. Again, these can double as a snack!

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