7 Smart Pre-Workout Meals and Snacks

Yogurt with fruit and nuts

Hooray for exercisers! It’s great to commit to working out, but don’t forget how important what you eat beforehand is. Diet and exercise go hand in hand. Here are seven pre-workout foods that will fuel your workout without weighing you down.

Tip: Exercise Timing

Try to eat an hour or two before exercising so that your body has time to digest the food. Opinions vary as to whether it's okay to exercise on an empty stomach: Some people say you can burn more fat this way, while others call that completely ridiculous!

Ultimately, do what works best for your body. If you're not hungry early in the morning and feel fine after exercising, go for it. Otherwise, stick with smart options like the selections below.

Protein Bars (With the Right Calorie Counts)

The market is flooded with protein bars, and some are better than others. Always check nutrition labels and look closely to make sure there's only one serving in the bar.

Unless you’re a serious fitness buff who's about to burn hundreds and hundreds of calories, avoid snacking on bars with over 300 calories. I tend to go for bars that have around 200 calories and at least 10 grams of protein. I’m a fan of Quest bars, which come in so many delicious flavors, from Blueberry Muffin to Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Get the scoop on those bars, plus four more good picks!

100-Calorie Packs of Nuts

Nuts contain many of the nutrients needed to fuel physical activities. Some nuts, like almonds, could even help you lose weight! But they are fairly calorie dense. That's why I love portion-controlled packs with 100 calories each. It’s easy to go overboard if you don’t have pre-measured servings! These packs pair well with high-fiber fruit, like (my favorite) Fuji apples.

Banana With Peanut Butter

Bananas are an exerciser's BFF. They contain a good amount of glucose, a.k.a. muscle fuel. And the potassium in bananas isn’t stored in your system for too long, so you're able to utilize it during your workout. Smear on a small amount of peanut butter (about 1 tablespoon) and enjoy. Now you’re ready to lift some weights!

Fat-Free Greek Yogurt With Berries and Chia Seeds

This snack is awesome! Not only is it tasty, but it also incorporates all three macronutrients. (Macro what? Let me explain).

The yogurt is packed with protein, berries contain carbs, and chia seeds provide your healthy fats. Boom. Instead of chia seeds, you could mix in a tablespoon of chopped nuts. Change it up, just like you do with cardio and strength training!

DIY Smoothies

A smoothie can be the perfect pre-workout snack, as long as you're smart about how you build it. Some smoothies are diet destroyers in disguise, full of sugar and fat. Be mindful of ones sold at smoothie shops! Your best bet is to whip up your own smoothies at home using real fruit, almond milk, and more.


The right kind of oatmeal—think steel-cut or old-fashioned, not sugary instant oats—is ideal before a workout. Whole-grain oats release carbs slowly into your system, so you stay energized for a while. Simple carbs like muffins and white bread, on the other hand, cause an unwanted spike and inevitable drop in blood sugar.

Chilled overnight oats are especially great for this because they don’t feel as heavy as hot cooked oats. Give them a shot!

Scrambled Egg Whites With Reduced-Fat Cheese

This low-calorie mini meal is perfect if you just need a little protein boost. You can even make this in a microwave! Just toss the ingredients together in a mug, and nuke until set. If only working out were just as quick and easy.

Wondering what to eat post-workout? I’ve got you covered!

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