6 Smart Pre-Workout Snacks

It can be tough to find the perfect pre-exercise food. You want something that’ll fuel your workout, but it also needs to be light enough that it won’t weigh you down. The ideal workout food is something that is low in calories, contains quality carbs, and is high in protein. Also, as you eat closer to your workout, you also want to have a lower fat and fiber intake. It's best to be consistent with the time between when you snack and then when you workout.

1

Greek yogurt

6 Foods to Eat Before a Workout: Greek yogurt
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Fat-free plain Greek yogurt is the ultimate exercise snack: tons of protein (twice as much as regular yogurt), super filling without being heavy, and it's easy to eat on-the-go. There are plenty of brands that make perfectly portioned 100-calorie containers.

If you find the taste of plain Greek yogurt a little too tart, mix in a packet of natural no-calorie sweetener (like Truvia), some raspberries and blueberries, or some low-sugar preserves. For some healthy fats that’ll kick your workout into high gear, add a few almonds!

2

Banana

Banana bunch

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

One perfect pre-workout food comes straight from Mother Nature: the banana.

A medium-sized banana has just about 100 calories, 27g carbs, and almost no fat. It is best to consume a banana 30-60 minutes before a workout.

Bananas have enough calories to quiet your hungry stomach for the duration of a workout, and just enough carbs to keep you energized. Plus, it comes in its own container. Can't beat that! (And no, bananas themselves won't cause weight gain). 

3

Delicious Style smoothie

6 Foods to Eat Before a Workout: smoothie
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Smoothies definitely have the potential to be a nutritious light snack, but you should be extra careful with them—they can be packed with way too many sugary calories. Your best bet is to DIY your own low-calorie smoothie. Stick with skim cow's milk (or your favorite unsweetened soy milk), unsweetened frozen fruits, and fat-free Greek yogurt.

Aim for 150 calories. This way, the smoothie will energize you for your workout without leading to a sugar crash later in the day. If you are planning a harder workout lasting more than 60-90 minutes, more carbohydrates may be needed, especially if it is a cardio workout.

4

Oatmeal

Oatmeal

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Oatmeal is chock-full of quality carbs and it’s so satisfying. It’s an especially good choice if you want to eat a full breakfast before a mid-morning workout. A popular way to cook oatmeal is to make a bowl of “growing oatmeal.” That's one serving of old-fashioned oats cooked for twice as long and with double the liquid. The result? A super-sized portion! Just give yourself some time to digest it before you lace up your sneakers.

5

Snack Bars With Protein

Granola Bar

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Need something fast, easy, and shelf-stable? Snack bars are for you. But not so fast! Not all snack bars are created equal. For pre-workout purposes, you want a carbohydrate and protein bar with less than 200 calories and a fair amount of protein that will help rebuild muscles as you work out. And watch out for fat. Certain snack bars pack are surprisingly high in fat. 

6

Apple With Light Cheese

6 Foods to Eat Before a Workout: Apple with light cheese
Courtesy of Getty Images / Babybel

An all-time favorite snacks is a Fuji apple with a wheel of Mini Babybel cheese, and it just so happens that it’s also the perfect fuel for exercise.

Apples have just enough calories and carbs to keep your energy up, and Mini Babybel cheese adds a bit of protein and extra flavor.

Together, apples and cheese add up to a satisfying snack with under 200 calories. Sweet!

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  1. Bananas, raw. USDA FoodData Central. Updated 4/1/2020