Pre-Workout Snacks to Help You Achieve Maximum Results

March 2, 2012

Must See Nutrition Videos

What you eat before a workout has a huge impact on your performance and recovery. Eating the right foods before training helps fuel your workouts and prevents low blood sugar. You’ll also experience faster recovery and better results. If you don't consume enough food, your workout intensity and benefits will suffer.

Sometimes you may feel some discomfort when eating before a workout, but that’s likely due to eating the wrong types of food. Pre-workout meals high in fat take longer to digest, which can cause fullness, cramping and general discomfort. To avoid this issue, opt for snacks with carbs and protein.

The best time to eat is 30 to 60 minutes before exercise. The best pre-workout meals have carbohydrates and some protein to promote greater muscular endurance, provide energy and help speed recovery. A pre-workout meal should contain 20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates, such as you get from a banana, half a bagel or a cup of cereal. You can get your protein through peanut butter or yogurt. Smoothies and protein bars are “combination foods” that contain both carbs and protein.

I recommend testing different options before a practice, workout or training run. You don't want to try new fuel the day of a big game or race. Make sure your body can handle the pre-workout snack without causing nausea or an upset stomach. If whole food items (grains, beans, fruits, vegetables and some dairy) upset your stomach, a liquid meal or smoothie may be a better option.

Here are some examples of pre-workout meals, each of which contains protein and 20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates.

  • Banana with one tablespoon of peanut butter
  • Smoothie made with protein powder and fruit
  • Trail mix with nuts and raisins (1 oz.)
  • Granola (1/2 cup) with sunflower seeds and almonds
  • Rice (1/2 cup) with almonds
  • Protein bar with carbohydrates, such as a Zone Bar or Detour Bar

For a comprehensive meal plan that goes beyond pre-workout prep, check out the STACK Meal Plan Guide.

Sources:

  1. Clark, Nancy. Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 3rd Edition. Human Kinetics, 2003.
  2. Ivy, John and Portman, Robert. Nutrient Timing for Peak Performance. Basic Health Publications, 2004.

Photo:  askmen.com

Kait Fortunato earned her bachelor’s degree in dietetics and completed her internship through the University of Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations for athletes of all ages and activity levels, and she is an active member of the Sports Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Visit dietitianindc.blogspot.com for running and recipe updates.

Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Must See
Jadeveon Clowney on Making Big Hits Jadeveon Clowney on Making Big Hits
Views: 6,527,451
Brandon Jennings: Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 5,580,073
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 8,081,467

Featured Videos

Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Views: 1,016,699
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,631
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 70,354
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,676
Paul Rabil's Box Jumps Paul Rabil's Box Jumps
Views: 851,362
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,576,773
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,333,004
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,499,053

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
3 Recipes to Spice Up Chocolate Milk

3 Recipes to Spice Up Chocolate Milk

Make Gains With This Post-Workout Shake Recipe

Make Gains With This Post-Workout Shake Recipe

Quinoa Recipes: A Super-Healthy Grain, 5 Ways

Quinoa Recipes: A Super-Healthy Grain, 5 Ways

Kait's Meal of the Month: Healthy Chicken Piccata

Kait's Meal of the Month: Healthy Chicken Piccata

6 Simple Power Recipes for Vegetarian Athletes

6 Simple Power Recipes for Vegetarian Athletes

Cooking for the Cooking-Inept: The Slow Cooker, Explained

Cooking for the Cooking-Inept: The Slow Cooker, Explained

Lunch Box Special: Tobin Heath's Old-School Pre-Game Favorite

Lunch Box Special: Tobin Heath's Old-School Pre-Game Favorite

3 Protein-Packed Peanut Butter Recipes

3 Protein-Packed Peanut Butter Recipes

Kait's Meal of the Month: Crock Pot Beef Stew

Kait's Meal of the Month: Crock Pot Beef Stew

Rate My Breakfast Plate: How Top Trainers' Breakfasts Stack Up

Rate My Breakfast Plate: How Top Trainers' Breakfasts Stack Up

Gain or Lose Weight With Oatmeal Pancakes

Gain or Lose Weight With Oatmeal Pancakes

6 Delicious and Healthy Overnight Oatmeal Recipes

6 Delicious and Healthy Overnight Oatmeal Recipes

Healthy Snack Recipes for Hungry Athletes

Healthy Snack Recipes for Hungry Athletes

Fuel Your Next Run With This Homemade Energy Bar

Fuel Your Next Run With This Homemade Energy Bar

Start Your New Year With These Holiday-Inspired Smoothies

Start Your New Year With These Holiday-Inspired Smoothies

A Better Baked Ziti

A Better Baked Ziti

Delightful Desserts for the Grill

Delightful Desserts for the Grill

5 Non-Boring, Easy and Healthy Canned Tuna Recipes

5 Non-Boring, Easy and Healthy Canned Tuna Recipes

6 Ways to Liven Up Your Winter Diet With Citrus

6 Ways to Liven Up Your Winter Diet With Citrus

Paleo-Friendly Meals for CrossFit Athletes

Paleo-Friendly Meals for CrossFit Athletes

Weight Loss and the Mediterranean Style Diet

Weight Loss and the Mediterranean Style Diet

Easy Thanksgiving Leftover Meals

Easy Thanksgiving Leftover Meals

3 Power-Packed Milkshakes to Boost Recovery

3 Power-Packed Milkshakes to Boost Recovery

4 Easy Recipe Substitutions for Take-Out Food

4 Easy Recipe Substitutions for Take-Out Food

3 Summer Shakes That Boost Athletic Performance

3 Summer Shakes That Boost Athletic Performance

5 Healthy Stuffing Recipes for Turkey Day

5 Healthy Stuffing Recipes for Turkey Day

Recipe Makeover: Healthy Stuffed Mushrooms

Recipe Makeover: Healthy Stuffed Mushrooms

3 Holiday Recipes that Won't Ruin Healthy Habits

3 Holiday Recipes that Won't Ruin Healthy Habits

'Ultimate Oatmeal' Recipe For Runners

'Ultimate Oatmeal' Recipe For Runners

Kait's Meal of the Month: Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Kait's Meal of the Month: Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Simply Roasted Sweet Potato Recipes

Simply Roasted Sweet Potato Recipes

Mix It Up With These High-Protein Meatloaf Muffin Snacks

Mix It Up With These High-Protein Meatloaf Muffin Snacks

Fill the Energy Void With These 5 Healthy Snack Ideas

Fill the Energy Void With These 5 Healthy Snack Ideas

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Salmon

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Salmon

Protein-Packed Smoothies Without Protein Powder

Protein-Packed Smoothies Without Protein Powder

Cure Breakfast Boredom With 3 Simple Healthy 'Boosts'

Cure Breakfast Boredom With 3 Simple Healthy 'Boosts'

4 Post-Workout Shakes for Recovery and Building Muscle

4 Post-Workout Shakes for Recovery and Building Muscle

A Recipe for Healthy Turkey Burgers

A Recipe for Healthy Turkey Burgers

5 Quick and Easy 5-Ingredient Recipes

5 Quick and Easy 5-Ingredient Recipes

7 Easy-to-Make Recipes for Gluten-Free Snacks

7 Easy-to-Make Recipes for Gluten-Free Snacks

Kait's Meal of the Month: Eggplant Turkey Boats

Kait's Meal of the Month: Eggplant Turkey Boats

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Sweet Potatoes

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Sweet Potatoes

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Ground Turkey

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Ground Turkey

7 Delicious Muscle-Building Smoothie Recipes

7 Delicious Muscle-Building Smoothie Recipes

4 Athlete-Friendly Microwave Meals

4 Athlete-Friendly Microwave Meals

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Eggs

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Eggs

5 Healthy Recipes to Start Your New Year

5 Healthy Recipes to Start Your New Year

YardBarker