Best and Worst Pre-Workout Foods

Energy with no crash!

Eating the right pre-workout foods can help you obtain better results at the gym. This is because a good meal will provide quick and substantial energy, without making you feel sluggish. Now, a workout isn’t an excuse to eat whatever you want. Foods that feel too heavy in the stomach will slow you down. And snacks with too much refined sugar might give you energy at first, but cause a crash soon afterwards. When it comes to pre-workout, think well-balanced carbs instead of heavy fats.

On the other hand, skipping a pre-workout meal can cause early fatigue, lightheadedness, muscle exhaustion, and in some cases, low blood sugar. Skipping the calories isn’t worth it, even if you’re trying to lose weight. Additionally, if your muscles have readily available energy from calories, your body will be able to work a little bit harder. It’s a slight difference that can make a big change in the long run.

If you want to know more about what to eat, or not eat, before a workout, read on! These are our top five worst and best pre-workout foods.

Worst: Salted Nuts

For the most part, nuts are great for your health. However, they are not so good as a pre-workout snack. Nuts are high in hard-to-digest fats, but low in carbs. This means they won’t provide quick energy. Additionally, the sodium in salted nuts will leave you dehydrated before you even begin your workout.

14 Easy Low-Carb Meals Under 300 Calories

Best: Bananas

For on-the-go snacking before the gym, grab a piece of fruit instead. While apples and oranges are also great, bananas are some of the best pre-workout foods you can find. They contain natural sugars for quick energy, and potassium to help you process excess sodium in your system.

We Recommend: Flourless Banana Pancakes

Worst: Spicy Food

Spices are an easy way to burn a few extra calories. However, it’s better to save spices for after your workout. Before your workout, too many spices can cause bloating and gasses, which means a truly uncomfortable gym session.

Best: Oatmeal

Instead, have some creamy oatmeal with a small dash of cinnamon about an hour before your workout. The carbs in the oats provide a steady source of energy. Top with berries for some extra sweetness.

We Recommend: Cinnamon Roll Oatmeal

Worst: Donuts & Chocolate

It’s easy to assume anything high calories is okay, since you’re just using the calories for fuel. However, foods like donuts and chocolate get their high calorie content from fat and sugars. Fat is slow to digest, which means it will sit heavy in your stomach while you’re trying to work out. Refined sugar, on the other hand, digests too quickly. First, it causes a spike, and then a crash, leaving you drained before you finish your workout.

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Sofia Lopez

Sofia received her BA from Cornell University and her MFA from San Francisco State University. She creates workouts and fitness challenges. Her hobbies include running, hiking, and listening to audiobooks from the exercise bike.

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