The best pre-workout snacks to fuel your workout



Whether you work out in the morning or hit the gym after work, a serving of healthy food before workout is an important step in fueling your body for the upcoming exercise. A pre-workout snack should contain carbohydrates to supplement your energy stores, protein to supply amino acids to your muscles, and fat to keep hunger at bay and stabilize blood sugar. Good pre-workout snacks give you a feeling of energy and strength without feeling bloated, heavy, or going to the bathroom, so they should contain complex carbohydrates without an excessive amount of fiber, fat, or bulk.

Rich foods or excess protein can cause heartburn and indigestion during exercise, so opt for light, balanced snacks before training. Pre-workout snacks should ideally be consumed 30 to 90 minutes before exercise, depending on the type of exercise you will be doing, the intensity and duration expected, the hunger versus the energy you feel and what that you eat for the pre-workout snack. The closer it is to your workout, the lighter and more carbohydrate-based the snack should be, as protein and fat will slow digestion, potentially reducing the effectiveness of your pre-workout snack.

Ultimately, fueling yourself properly with the best pre-workout snacks before hitting the gym, running, or taking a spinning class will ensure your body has the nutrients and building blocks it needs for. fuel your activity and maximize the gains from your workout. If you are too hungry, weak, and lacking the glycogen it needs to push your body, your performance will be lower and you will progress more slowly towards your fitness goals. Therefore, keep reading our recommendations for the best pre-workout snacks to step up your fueling game and take your workout gains to the next level.

Cheese, fruit and turkey


Cheese and fruit or fruit and a protein like chicken breast, turkey, tuna, tofu, or tempeh provide a balance of sustained energy and fast energy before you work out. You can even make a small wrap with a whole grain tortilla, cheese, some veggies, and your favorite protein. Just make sure you keep the portion small or eat it about 90 minutes before going to the gym to give your stomach plenty of time to digest.


One night of oats in a jar with yogurt and blackberries.

Oats are very versatile and make a great pre-workout snack due to the complex carbohydrates, which provide sustained energy without causing blood sugar to drop. Oats also contain prebiotics, a special type of fiber that feeds beneficial bacteria in your gut and lowers cholesterol. Try oats overnight with nut milk, fruit, chia seeds and berries, or oatmeal with fruits and nuts if you hit the gym in the morning. You can also enjoy steel cut oatmeal or low sugar granola or other healthy breakfast cereals.

Trail mix

a mixture of dried fruits.

Trail mix with dried fruits, nuts and seeds is hearty without being heavy. Nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients like fiber, healthy fats, zinc, iron, and vitamin E. Dried fruits, especially dried apricots, are an excellent source of iron, an essential mineral needed to transport oxygen in your body. You can also add dark chocolate, which adds decadence and many antioxidants.

Homemade Protein Balls

homemade protein balls on a cutting board.

Homemade protein balls are easy to make by combining oatmeal, nut butter, protein powder, dried fruit, coconut, and seeds. You can flavor them with different spices like ginger, cinnamon or even cocoa powder. They provide sustained energy and contain fewer preservatives and processed ingredients than store-bought protein bars.

Protein Bars

slow down the bar sitting on a counter with nuts, vegetables and seeds.

Protein bars and energy bars are practical, snacks on the go before a workout. They are often specially designed to provide the ideal ratio of macronutrients to fuel your body before exercise. Look for low-sugar bars with whole, natural ingredients and without artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, as they cause digestive upset. We love Slow Up Bars, a new line of nutrition bars that reinvent traditional energy bars with real ingredients and innovative flavors, some of which are salty. Bars should be refrigerated until you plan to eat them (although they can stay for several hours), a sign of their freshness and lack of processing. Flavors include sesame ginger, red pepper pesto, and Poblano black bean, along with a few sweet options.

Rice cakes

Peanut butter and rice cakes.

Rice cakes don’t necessarily provide tons of lasting energy, but they are exceptionally light and easy to digest. This can be ideal before exercise, especially for those with sensitive stomachs or those who plan to go for a run or do some other vigorous workout. Top them with fat and protein to ensure satiety. For example, nut butters, tuna, turkey breast, hummus, or ricotta cheese with sliced ​​fruit make for a tasty and balanced pre-workout snack.

Cottage cheese or yogurt

Cottage cheese and berries in a bowl.

Cottage cheese or Greek yogurt is high in protein and can provide sustained energy for your workout, especially when paired with fruit or a little grain, granola, or nuts. If you’re sensitive to dairy, consider an alternative milk yogurt, like soy or hemp.

Nut Butter And Fruits

Peanut butter and apple.

Whether you like peanut butter and banana, apple and almond butter, or sliced ​​pear and sunflower seed butter, nut butter and fruit make a great pre-workout snack because they contain an ideal ratio of nutrients to fuel your body for physical activity. Bananas are high in potassium, an electrolyte that can help prevent muscle cramps during exercise. If you prefer something a little more salty, you can also enjoy carrot sticks, celery or other raw vegetables. Sweet potatoes or others root vegetables, are also a good vehicle for almond butter or peanut butter and provide complex carbohydrates and fiber for sustained energy.

Whole grain toast

three pieces of whole grain toast on plates with fruits and vegetables.

Whole grain bread or toast provides complex carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins, and can be a versatile pre-workout snack. Like rice cakes, it can be topped with anything from nut butters or hummus to avocados, eggs, turkey, tempeh, or cheese.

Whole grain crackers

whole grain crackers.

Whole grain crackers can be eaten on the go, with cheese on a string, a few nuts or a few pieces of chicken breast, turkey breast or leftover strips of cooked tofu. The seed crackers will provide additional nutrients like zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation in the body.

Hard boiled eggs

hard boiled eggs on a plate and counter.

Hard-boiled eggs provide a complete source of protein with all the essential amino acids your body needs, as well as iron, B vitamins, and vitamins DK and A. For the perfect pre-workout snack, pair an egg with one. piece of fruit, such as an orange or a handful of berries, to increase the carbohydrate content and vitamin C.


a container of everyone's bagel hummus.

Made from Nutritious chickpeas, a type of legume, hummus can be a perfect pre-workout snack because it’s full of protein, a bit of fat, and complex carbohydrates. Today there are tons of flavors and varieties of hummus, even sweet ones, to suit all tastes. We love Ithaca’s Everybody Bagel Hummus, which features the iconic bagel seasoning all in a delicious high protein hummus, perfect for dipping or spreading on crackers, whole grain bread, carrots, strips of peppers or other healthy vegetables.

Protein smoothies or shakes

Burning smoothies by fire standing in front of weights.

Protein smoothies or shakes have the right nutrient ratios to fuel an intense workout and prepare your muscles for intense exertion. Whip yours up with fresh fruit, leafy greens, and protein powder, or purchase a convenient on-the-go option like the Fuel For Fire portable protein smoothies, which come in delicious flavors like chocolate strawberry. There is a range of smoothies made from whey protein as well as one made entirely from vegetable protein.

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