Sneakers? Check. Headphones? Check. Inspiring playlist? Check. There are a few things you wouldn’t want to start a workout without — and the right fuel should be one of them.
A pre-workout meal or snack can help you power through whatever reps, sets, and routines you have planned.
So how can you decide what to eat before a workout?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the best foods to eat before a workout.
“For some, working out on an empty stomach is fine,” says Tiffany Ma, R.D.N., a registered dietitian based in Brooklyn, NY. “But generally, most people report feeling better and less fatigued when they eat before a workout.”
Here’s how to pick the best pre-workout snack for your next sweat sesh.
1. Focus on Carbs
Carbs get a bad rap, but they’re an important energy source for your workouts.
Your body breaks down carbs into glucose, some of which is stored as glycogen — your body’s main source of energy during high-intensity workouts.
Including carbs in your pre-workout nutrition ensures that your body will have glycogen on reserve if you need it.
On the flip side, if your body doesn’t have enough glycogen, you may feel sluggish and tired during your workout.
Which carbs should you eat before a workout?
- For longer-lasting energy, choose slow-digesting complex carbs (like fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains) rather than simple carbs (like white bread or candy), Ma says.
- If you’re doing a shorter workout, simple carbs can provide immediate energy. “That way your body can take advantage of the glucose,” Ma says.
- For longer workouts that require endurance, like running, focus on eating both complex and simple carbs to help you power through from start to finish.
2. Limit Fats Immediately Before Your Workout
Healthy fats are an important part of your overall nutrition plan, and they can provide energy during a workout.
But dietary fats take longer to digest, so avoid consuming them right before your workout or you may end up feeling sluggish instead.
3. Don’t Fret Too Much About Timing
There’s no precise formula for when to eat before a workout. But in general, you should eat something anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours before your workout.
Figure out what works best for you. That may be a full meal, four hours before you press play on your workout, Ma says. Or it may be a light snack 30 minutes before your workout.
4. Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods
Whether you opt for a meal or a snack, it should “include a good mix of carbs, protein, and minimal fat,” Ma says.
Some options for a balanced full pre-workout meal include:
- Lean protein with rice or quinoa and steamed vegetables
- Breakfast burrito with avocado, vegetables, and lean protein
- Sandwich made with whole-wheat bread, lean protein, and vegetables with a side salad or sweet potato
A few pre-workout snacks to try include:
- Greek yogurt with fruit
- Fresh fruit (like a banana, apple, or orange)
- A bowl of cereal with milk
- Trail mix with dried fruit and mixed nuts
5. Give Yourself a Boost
Bottom line: Your pre-workout nutrition should give you the energy you need to power through a tough workout.
For an extra boost, try Beachbody Performance Energize. This pre-workout supplement provides beta-alanine, low-dose caffeine, and quercetin to help delay exercise-induced muscle fatigue so you can push harder and go longer.*
(Even better? It comes in three tasty flavors — lemon, mixed berry, or fruit punch.)
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.