If you’ve ever exercised on an empty stomach, you know how important it is to eat a pre-workout snack. But don’t just grab the first thing you find in your fridge – the perfect pre-workout snack features a unique balance of nutrients, calories, and timing.
When to Grub: Timing is Everything
Time your pre-workout snack correctly or suffer the consequences. Eat too early and your blood sugar levels won’t be high enough, which leads to fatigue and light-headedness. Working out hungry sucks. Eating too close to the time of your workout can be a very uncomfortable experience that can cause indigestion, nausea, and sluggishness.
For most people, it’s a good idea to eat your pre-workout snack one to two hours before you begin exercising. However, you may need to adjust this depending on when you are working out, what you’ve eaten previously that day, and your overall metabolism.
Some people like to down a smoothie thirty minutes before the gym, while others would be sick if they did this. You’ll have to experiment eating your pre-workout snack at different times to discover the correct timing for you.
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What to Eat: The Nutrition
Aim for a 150-250 calorie snack that includes high-quality protein and carbohydrates. Protein will help your muscles grow stronger, while carbs are essential for providing the energy you need to exercise at your maximum level.
20 Tasty Pre-Workout Snack Ideas
- Slice of toasted wholegrain bread topped with half an avocado and a dash of cracked red pepper.
- Quarter cup of chickpeas sprinkled with lemon juice and garlic salt.
- Double egg white omelet with onions, peppers, and mushrooms.
- Sliced pear smeared with a heaping tablespoon of almond butter.
- Greek yogurt topped with fresh blueberries and a sprinkle of chopped pecans.
- Fruit smoothie made with scoop of whey protein powder.
- Handful of trail mix made of raw almonds, cashews, and dried apricots.
- Packet of prepared flavored tuna with small handful of whole wheat crackers.
- Two pieces of high-quality deli chicken wrapped around carrot sticks and sliced avocado.
- Chopped chicken breast wrapped in lettuce leaf with tomato and purple onion.
- Oatmeal topped with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a few sliced almonds.
- Half of a baked sweet potato topped with shredded grilled chicken.
- Sliced banana on whole wheat toast with a tablespoon of cashew butter.
- Avocado sliced in half and topped with mild pico de gallo.
- Whole-grain, low-sugar cereal with dairy or nut milk.
- Boiled egg with two tablespoons of guacamole and a few crackers.
- Cottage cheese topped with fresh sliced strawberries, a sprinkle of granola, and a small drizzle of honey.
- Several slices of turkey deli meat on a piece of whole wheat bread.
- Garlic hummus with carrot chips and shredded wheat crackers.
- Chicken salad made with Greek yogurt stuffed into a whole wheat pita pocket with a piece of lettuce.
What Not to Eat Before Your Workout
Sugar – While sugar does provide a quick jolt of energy known as a “sugar rush,” this is inevitably followed by a crash – and it will probably hit you in the middle of your workout.
Fat – Fatty foods are slow to digest, which means that they leave your stomach slowly. Besides feeling sluggish and slow, you might wind up cramping while you exercise.
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