When it comes to a pre-workout snack, what you choose to fuel your body with is important, especially if you want to continually perform at a high level. I’m talking about real, nutritious meals and snacks, not pre-workout supplements—the kind of foods you’ll keep coming back to.
Believe it or not, you’ll actually want to focus on a pre-workout meal high in carbs. You may be cringing at the thought of fueling up on carbs but it’s true!
Foods high in protein and fat slow down digestion and may cause an upset stomach during your workouts. Carbs are your main fuel source for exercise and the primary fuel source for your brain, so eat up before your next workout!
Here are 5 pre-workout meals and snacks that’ll help you power through your training sessions regardless of whether you work out at the gym or at home.
#1 Plain Greek Yogurt with Granola and Berries
Berries and granola provide quick-digesting carbs to fuel your next workout and Greek yogurt provides ample protein to prevent muscle breakdown during your training session.
Try to find granola that contains nuts, seeds and nutritious carbs—oats, millet or amaranth. And make sure the granola is naturally sweetened with dates, figs or vanilla.
The same goes for yogurt—choose plain over fruit-flavored varieties. Overall, it’s really important to keep sugar intake at a minimum before a workout so your energy levels won’t deplete.
#2 Banana with Peanut Butter
Bananas are loaded with simple carbs and potassium. The carbs fuel your training session while potassium helps with optimal nerve and muscle function. Top your banana off with a serving (2 tbsp) of nut butter and you’ll have a powerful pre-workout snack.
This pre-workout snack is especially good for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or long endurance workouts, which require muscle glycogen as fuel.
Glycogen is the primary source of fuel during exercise. Low glycogen levels decrease your ability to gain strength and muscle. The best way to maintain high levels of glycogen is to eat a high-carb diet (1 to 3 grams of carbs per pound of body weight).
#3 Cottage Cheese and Dried Apricots
Cottage cheese is a power-packed pre-workout snack that contains high levels of casein and whey protein. Casein is a slow-digesting protein that helps fuel your muscles for hours on end, while whey protein helps build muscle and burn fat.
Add dried apricots or figs to a serving of cottage cheese for the perfect protein-carb combination. This snack is low in fat and fiber, which will keep you from feeling bloated over the course of your workout.
#4 Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
This all-time American classic is actually the perfect pre-workout snack for optimal gains. Not only is it easy to make and cheap to buy, it’s a portable source of protein and carbs. Just make sure to choose whole-wheat bread and natural peanut butter and naturally sweetened jelly if possible.
#5 Fresh Fruit Smoothies
Fruits are jam-packed with simple sugars that are easy to digest, making them the preferred energy source for high-intensity workouts. Check out our list of low-calorie pre-workout smoothie recipes for combinations that suit your preferences.
Carbs = energy.
When you eat carbs, they break down into glucose, enter your muscle cells and give you the necessary fuel to work out at your maximum capacity. Your muscles store glucose in the form of glycogen.
Glycogen reserves are only utilized when you’re putting them to work. When it comes to what to eat before a workout, carbs ensure you’ll have extra glucose on hand if you need to replenish your glycogen stores. So, eat up!
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