Top 6 Pre-Workout Snack Ideas

pre-workout snack
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Exercising on a full stomach is generally a bad idea. Bloating, cramping and a general urge to take a nap and digest can derail a workout. But if your stomach is rumbling and you are starting to feel a bit weak because you haven't had a meal in hours, your workout may also suffer.

The key to eating before exercise is to make sure you have enough energy to fuel your exercise, without going overboard and consuming unnecessary calories.

But running out of glycogen, the fuel that supports muscle contraction, may put an athlete at risk of bonking, or hitting the wall—that dreaded feeling of weakness, confusion, and extreme fatigue.

Hitting the wall is actually pretty hard to do, and if it happens, it usually requires several continuous hours of high-intensity endurance exercise before an athlete is at risk of bonking.  Ninety percent of us will rarely if ever, experience this unmistakable feeling.

Most of us generally have enough stored glycogen in our body to easily fuel a 90-minute workout without needed to consume extra food. Water alone is sufficient for most workouts.

Pre-Workout Snacks to Try

If you haven't eaten in several hours, and want a little something an hour before you exercise, there are some pre-workout snacks that work better than others. Here are some snack ideas you could try.

Fruit Smoothie

The closer you are to your workout time, the less solid food you may want to consume. A pre-exercise smoothie could do the trick. Combine 1/2 banana, a handful of berries, 2 T protein powder, a few handfuls of kale, and 1-2 C water in a blender and you've got a refreshing and satisfying pre-workout snack.

Coconut Water

One of the most refreshing pre-workout snacks is a simple glass of cool coconut water. It's satisfying and is full of easily-digested carbs as well as electrolytes, such as potassium. 

Almond Butter and Apples

An apple slathered with almond butter is a filling and savory snack that provides carbohydrates, protein and good fats. It won't digest as quickly as a fruit smoothie or coconut water, but it's a simple, go-to pre-workout snack.

Fresh Berries and Cottage Cheese

Try combining fresh berries with cottage cheese or yogurt for a quick and easy snack. Again, this will take a bit more to digest but will help power a longer workout and keep you from feeling hungry until you can have a proper post-workout meal.

Hard Boiled Egg and Toast

Having a hardboiled egg on whole grain toast is super simple and filling snack. It's also a back-to-basics snack that's inexpensive and easy to prepare.

Chocolate Milk

Chocolate milk has the ideal ratio of carbohydrates and protein to help repair muscle damage after tough workout as recommended by many experts. It also provides a nice, simple, pre-exercise snack. Just don't go overboard with the milk—a pint is plenty for many of us, if you are doing a 30-45 minute workout.

The Bottom Line

Eating before a short workout is optional. There are many good reasons to avoid eating pre-exercise, and if you typically eat three regular meals and a few snacks a day, you probably don't need to worry that much about eating before a workout.

If, on the other hand, you have an unusual meal schedule, skip meals, or are a serious athlete in peak training, you may need to be a bit more mindful of what and when you eat before training. 

Take a close look at your daily routine, food habits, and meal patterns before you automatically consume extra, unnecessary pre-workout calories simply because you've heard that it's important to eat something before exercise.

The reality is that most people won't require any special sports drink, energy bars, or fancy power-boosting snacks before they head to the gym for a quick 45-60 minute exercise session.

But if you are feeling hungry and haven't eaten in several hours, light and healthy snack like those suggested above may be all you need for a simple 60-minute workout.

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