To eat or not to eat before a workout?

granola bowl with fruit and yogurt

One side of this debate avoids food before a workout and the other can’t work out without downing a solid breakfast. 

While everyone’s nutritional requirements and preferences vary depending on their fitness goals and workout habits, knowing what to eat before and after workouts could have an impact on reaching your goals and being fueled properly for a good sweat session. 

Experts say for optimal performance, your body needs to fuel up with protein and complex carbs before a workout.

If you want to build muscle, you should eat a high protein snack right before your workout (or right after) — but if your goal is to fuel yourself for a long endurance workout you’ll want a more carb-rich snack.

Research finds eating meals 2-3 hours before you exercise yields maximum performance but that can be hard to do in the morning. Snacks should be consumed 30-60 minutes before. The most important thing to remember when choosing a pre-workout food is that it’s not filling, it’s easy to digest and won’t upset your stomach. 

 Here are some light and small pre-workout options. 

  • Berry parfait with cottage cheese – add some whole-grain cereal or granola for a carb boost
  • Apple slices with peanut or almond butter and chia seeds
  • Hard-boiled egg and avocado toast – or one or the other
  • Whole grain toast and peanut butter 
  • Bananas provide you with energy and can help reduce cramping
  • Rice cakes with almond butter – my son likes to swap for a Rice Krispy treat before soccer games
  • Oatmeal and berries 
  • Turkey avocado wrap – wrap the turkey around the avocado and add some shredded carrot for crunch
  • Nuts and dried fruits trail mix 
  • Hummus and carrots or a handful of almonds
  • Chocolate milk has the ideal ratio of carbs and protein and is often recommended by sports nutritionists

Also, a reminder that Kathy’s Table is available for pick up at the Board30 PV studio. They offer many healthy options (including gluten-free and dairy-free)including chocolate protein pancakes ($8.75), delicious chocolate peanut butter protein bars ($9), coconut fudge protein bars ($9), juices and more! They offer meal plans and in-store pick up as well. Check out their full menu at

There is no one-stop solution in the complex field of pre- and post-workout nutrition. When it comes to fitness, everyone is different, and you have to experiment with what works best for you. 

Part II of this series will focus on post-workout snacks and meals. 

Tell us, what’s your go-to pre-workout snack?

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