Eating before a workout is highly individualised. There’s no right or wrong answer whether you should exercise on an empty stomach, or eat before training. It depends on each person as some people like to work out on an empty stomach (aka fasted training), others need to have that extra fuel to give their all in the gym. If you are looking for the extra boost, you have to find the best pre workout snack for energy.
If you eat before you train, the best food to eat before workout should ideally be meals that are easily digestible and high in carbohydrates. If you’re strength training or doing long-duration cardio exercise in the morning, experts highly recommend eating a light meal or snack containing carbohydrates and protein 1-3 hours before you get started.
So what to eat before a workout? Read on to know the right nutrients that will fuel your body prior to exercise to give you the strength and energy to perform better.
1. Fruit and Greek yoghurt
This is a killer combo packed with carbohydrates and protein. Fruits are full of carbohydrates while, compared to regular yoghurt, Greek yoghurt has double the protein, fewer carbs, and half the sodium.
They go well together as carbs in the fruit break down quickly and are used as fuel during your workout. The protein in Greek yoghurt is stored a little longer to prevent muscle damage.
This powerful combination before a workout will fuel your body and give you the energy to get you through your workout. Your body will also use this energy rather than from your muscles (muscle catabolism – breaking down of muscle tissue) when all the glycogen is used up. They’re also a natural sugar that is full of nutrients.
Fruits and Greek yoghurt are great to have in the morning or 30-60 minutes prior to working out.
2. Dried fruit
Much like fruit, dried fruits are also a form of simple carbohydrates that are easily digestible. They’re also high in natural sugar so you won’t need much before working out. Some examples of dried fruits that you can fix yourself are dried berries, apricots, figs, and pineapple.
Bonus tip: Feel free to incorporate your favourite healthy snacks here to help you stay motivated and energised during your training sessions.
Complex carbohydrates as pre-workout meals
If you prefer to work out in the afternoon, the following meals/dishes contain complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are slow releasing energy source which keeps you
fuller for longer and help you fuel your body throughout the day, making it perfect for your afternoon training sessions.
1. Peanut butter on whole-wheat toast
It’s delish, it’s easy to prepare and it’s a good food to eat before exercise. A slice of whole wheat bread with a spoonful of peanut butter is another excellent source of carbohydrates and protein for energy and muscle growth.
(Top tip: To avoid unwanted sugars and oils, go for those that list “peanut” or “almonds” only. You’re welcome.)
2. Crumpets/English muffins
Both crumpets and muffins are not only common breakfast goodies in Australia, they are also considered as few of best pre workout snacks for energy. They’re both relatively high in carbohydrates. To make for a more nutritious dish, you can add some ham, egg, and cheese. It’s best to stay away from butter or sugary jams and jellies.
A whole-wheat crumpet or muffin contains more fibre, too, which helps you stay full longer and lowers the sugar content your body gets.
3. Chicken, rice, and vegetables
This is a stereotypical, classic and one of the best pre-workout meals. A combination of a good source of lean protein and complex carbohydrates can provide amino acids to promote muscle growth and a slow-releasing source of energy. Ensure to consume a meal like this around 2-3 hours before a workout.
Oats are full of fibre that gradually releases carbohydrates. This slow release keeps your energy levels consistent during a workout — which means you can train harder for longer! Moreover, oats contain vitamin B which helps convert carbohydrates into energy.
Potatoes are loaded with carbohydrates. Plus, there are so many ways to cook them! You can bake them, boil them, or even mix them into a salad.
One of the world’s most popular health foods, quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and carbohydrates, making it a superfood perfect for those who are living an active and healthy lifestyle. It also has three to four times more nutrients than brown rice!
While you can eat cooked quinoa plain, you can also incorporate this into your diet in many ways. You can use it as a meat substitute in tacos, or easily add to your salad or breakfast, or even make a creamy porridge with berries!
Pasta is popular with many athletes as it’s packed with carbohydrates and easy to digest. Much like the other complex carbohydrates mentioned, the starchy carbohydrates found in pasta will help you start off strong and give you the power to persevere throughout your workout.
Lift right, eat right with Infused CrossFit
If you need to take something quick, easy, and straight before a workout, give gels a try. Gels are commonly used for those that have long training sessions planned, such as long-distance runners and triathletes. Gels are simple carbohydrates that should be taken straight before working out. They’re fast-releasing energy but can contain a lot of sugar in such a small dose.
Powders are also great choices for a pre-workout food. Some opt for caffeine to help them give that extra kick and focus. Just remember to take only half the required amount when first starting out as everybody reacts differently when taking them.
So which of these is best food to eat before workout suits you? Remember, getting the right nutrition before a workout is important for your body to enhance your energy, particularly when doing high-intensity or longer-endurance workouts. Of course, it goes without saying that post-workout meals are equally crucial as it plays a huge role in your ability to bounce back and recover for your next workout session. (But we can talk about it on another day.)
If you’d like to learn more about nutrition, CrossFit, and fitness tips, check out our health and fitness blog.
Want to know more about us? Infused Crossfit is a Crossfit Facility located in Ellenbrook. Our CrossFit facility is family-friendly, has an Occupational Therapy clinic, and offers Nutritional coaching. Our motivating and dynamic environment is a melting pot of like-minded people of all ages and body types, and who are committed to working hard and achieving lasting fitness results. We are also committed to share our knowledge and expertise through social media.