Fuelling up before exercise isn’t just about curbing your hunger – it’s about setting the stage for one of your best performances yet. Just like a car needs the right type of petrol to run, your body needs the right nutrients to power through squats, sprints, and everything in between. Research has shown that if you eat the right pre-workout snack roughly 30-60 minutes before training, you will have a more stable appetite for the rest of the day and provide the energy required for a successful workout…but what makes the perfect pre-workout snack? This article is your go-to guide for making the ideal pre-exercise bite. One that is packed with energy, easy on the stomach, and delicious.

 

Before we spill the beans on how to create the perfect pre-workout snack, let’s hear about the benefits of nailing what you eat ahead of exercise.

 

The benefits of having the right pre-workout snack

Jumpstarting your workout with the right snack can truly transform your exercise. Let’s delve into why your pre-exercise bite is more than just an extra snack, it is a crucial part of your workout strategy:

Energy Boost

By fuelling your body with the right mixture of nutrients (more on that later), you provide it with a steady supply of glycogen (energy) for your muscles to use. This helps to support your endurance levels and allows for you to push harder, for longer. This can be the difference between finishing strong or fizzling out early.

Digestibility 

At some point in your life you will have experienced a ‘stitch’. That uncomfortable, and often painful ache or shooting pain somewhere in your stomach when exercising. That is exactly what we want to avoid. 

The digestibility of your pre-workout snack is paramount. Lightweight and easily digestible will help to ensure that the blood your heart is working hard to pump around your body, is going to the muscles where you need it. Not to your stomach to help digest what you have just eaten.

Taste

Never underestimate the motivational boost of a tasty snack! Have you ever eat one of your favourite foods and did a little dance because it just tastes so good? …Us too!

If you’re excited about what you’re going to eat, you’re likely to be excited about the workout that follows.

This is a little tip, for establishing and maintaining a consistent workout routine that you enjoy. Turn what could be a chore, into a rewarding ritual.

Hormone balance

Creating a nutritionally sound snack, with your workout in mind, can help maintain a balance in your hormones which will fluctuate throughout your workout.

Consuming the right snack can influence the release and response of hormones such as insulin, which links back to that energy boost, but making sure your that energy isn’t just a spike. It is a steady flow, keeping you going and feeling good for it.

Improved performance

Energised, more focus, precise movements, better concentration, better endurance, higher power output…need we say any more? Peak performance happens with the right preparation.

Better recovery

Starting your workout right also primes your body for when it finishes. There is a specific nutrient, that if you include in your pre-workout snack, will enhance muscle repair, muscle growth and your recovery post-exercise.

You might be wondering whether exercising fasted or having eaten a snack leads to faster weight loss? We’ve already explored this, click here to find out for yourself.

 

How to create the perfect pre-workout snack

This is what you’ve been waiting for, so lets get to it. To create the perfect workout snack, you need to include the following:

 

1. Carbohydrates

 

Carbohydrates are the macronutrient that will provide your body with the most energy. It is the energy that carbohydrates provide your body that will burn when you begin to exercise. When it comes to pre-workout, you want carbohydrates to be the main character. 

You ideally want to be opting for complex carbohydrates, which release energy slowly and keep your insulin spikes in check. 

Pre-workout complex carbohydrate examples: 

  • Oats
  • Bananas
  • Melon
  • Berries
  • Wholegrain bread (or any non-white bread)
  • Sweet potato

For the average woman, a slice of toast or a banana will fulfill your pre-workout snack requirements perfectly.

25g of carbohydrates is perfect preparation for your workout.

 

2. Protein

 

Remember that nutrient we said that would enhance your recovery? This is it!

Protein is a little bit of a super macronutrient, because it does so much. Adding protein into your pre-workout snack can lessen your DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) post workout, help you to feel fuller for longer, and is important in keeping that hormone balance in check. It really is a win-win situation. 

But here is the caveat: You don’t need as much protein as you think. 

Anything around 5-10g of protein pre-workout will do the trick, which is actually a lot less than what people tend to think they need. But there is more…

3. Fat

 

You need some fat in your pre-workout snack, but it isn’t something you need a lot of.

Try to make your pre-workout snack whole by including carbohydrates, protein and fats, but opt for foods that include a good spread of these.

Include a nut butter in your pre-workout snack. Nut butters include protein, and fat. Which is a fantastic option.

Timing your pre-workout snack

You don’t want to eat too early, as the benefits of what you eat won’t be as effective, and you don’t want to eat too late as the food will be sitting in your digestive tract; and that won’t be a comfortable experience for you. 

The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommend consuming your pre-workout snack 2-4 hours before exercise, but there are many factors that influence this (size, gender, how well you digest food etc).

We don’t agree with this time frame, so we recommend eating your pre-workout snack anywhere between one and half, and two hours before exercising. 

That way you get the benefits of the increased energy, and avoid any food sloshing around your stomach causing that awful stitch pain.

 

Pre-workout snack ideas

Here are some ideas that will help you to nail your pre-workout snack:

  • Almond butter on wholemeal toast
  • Greek yoghurt, raspberries and honey
  • Vegetable sticks and hummus (or swap the vegetable sticks for crackers)
  • Overnight oats (carrot cake is our favourite!)
  • Peanut and chocolate chip cookie
  • Granola bar
  • Protein balls

 

Before you go

Fueling with the right pre-workout snack can be a game changer. If you’re feeling lacklustre throughout your workouts, or struggle with light-headedness when pushing yourself, you need to try implementing one into your routine!

It isn’t necessarily about dodging hunger, it is about arming your body with the nutrients and energy that it needs to excel. 

From boosting your endurance, to ensuring smooth digestion, a tasty snack before hitting the gym is more than a treat, it is a strategic move to improve your workout performance and recovery. It is a method that is known to help women experience working out differently. 

Find that balance of carbohydrates, protein, and a little fat, time it right and get ready to feel the difference. Try some of our snack suggestions, and tag us on social media

Instagram: @heyblossomwellness 
Facebook: Blossom Wellness 

References

Where we got our research for this article

References
Nasr, L., Sacre, Y., Attieh, R., & Mannan, H. (2023). Association between the Timing of Pre-Workout Macronutrient Intake and Rated Appetite among Resistance-Trained Adults in Jbeil, Lebanon. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(3), 2399.

Sims, S. T., Kerksick, C. M., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Janse de Jonge, X. A., Hirsch, K. R., Arent, S. M., … & Antonio, J. (2023). International society of sports nutrition position stand: Nutritional concerns of the female athlete. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 20(1), 2204066.

https://blog.nasm.org/workout-and-nutrition-timing

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