What Food to Eat Before a Workout?

What food to eat before a workout is one of the most asked questions by beginner sportives. What you consume will either boost your energy or will make you feel tired. Your body is smart, and if you give it the right fuel, it will respond accordingly. So let’s see the list of food to give your stomach before working out so that you can burn energy, build muscles, and feel good all day long!

Why Should You Eat Before Any Workout?

Before going any further, let’s talk first about why it is so important to eat before a workout. There are a few reasons for this. Your body is like anything that works on battery. If you don’t recharge it, it will simply not work! Your body needs the energy to perform at his best, and without it, don’t expect to see exceptional results.

Researchers explain that working out on an empty stomach will burn energy from the muscles instead of the food you have just consumed. And besides this, you may run the risk to head toward hypoglycemia, which can be very unpleasant and, in certain cases, dangerous. That’s what happened to me not long time ago.

I was in a rush, I forgot to eat something, and after half an hour of workout, I felt awful. From now on, I will remember to eat. If this happens to you, just lay down and drink water, as I did! Some people can’t stand eating in the morning, and if that is the case, you should at least drink a big glass of water if possible with lemon.

What to Eat Prior Workout


Eat carbohydrates before a workout

Whether you want to lose weight or build muscles, Carbohydrates provide your body with the glycogen needed for your workout session. Only the complex carbs are good to eat before a workout ( with low Index glycemic) such as lentils, whole grains, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and many others.

Avoid at all cost the refined carbs. They are bad for your health. They will not give your body the right nutrition and fuel it needs for your workout. High glycemic carbs will raise your blood sugar, stimulate your appetite, and make you feel tired.


Eat proteins before a workout

As funny as it sounds, exercising causes your muscles to breaks down instead of building them. So if your goal is to maintain or build muscles, you need to eat food that contains protein like eggs, chicken, beef, etc. A quick explanation of the muscles. Our muscles are made up of proteins called actin and myosin.

These proteins are made of amino acids that are linked together. The more you’ll build muscle, the more your body will need to produce actin and myosin – by connecting amino acids together inside the muscles. So by eating protein before exercising, you provide your body with the amino acids that it needs to help build muscles.

But don’t exaggerate with proteins because too much of it could increase the body fat level and calcium excretion. For example, a person who wants to make muscles, cannot exceed 2g of protein per kilo of body mass per day.

What Food to Avoid?

Food to avoid before a workout

Although Fat is high in energy, you should not eat it before a workout because it is way too heavy and takes longer to digest it. So, to be more precise, food like french frize, pizza, hamburgers, alcohol, to name a few, is a no-no!

When to Eat?

The best is to eat something light 30 minutes before a workout and a meal with low index glycemic carbohydrates, a maximum of two hours before your exercise. If you eat too early, you will be hangry during your workout, and that’s not a great feeling.

As I said above, you may end up getting dizzy and tired. (Hypoglycemia) And if you eat a meal too close to your workout, not only your stomach will have a hard time to digest the food, but you will also feel heavy, which you don’t want.

List of Pre-Workout Food

List of food to eat before a workout

Just Before Starting a Session
If you haven’t had the time to eat before your workout, try not to exercise on an empty stomach. Eat something that will give you energy like a piece of whole-grain bread, nuts, banana, almond with an apple, or healthy granola bar or even 70% chocolate! These snacks should give you enough fuel during your workout.

30 Minutes Before a Session
Thirty minutes before your workout, you can apply the same, as I have stated above. The snacks need to be light and easy to digest. Yogurt with fruits, dry fruits, bread with 100% fruits jam and sugar-free, spelt crackers, or applesauce. You would be surprised at the amount of healthy and light snacks you can eat without feeling guilty. And that will give you plenty of energy!

Two Hours Before a Workout

You can eat a light meal that contains protein and carbs two hours before your exercise session, for example, eggs, salad, whole grain rice, pasta, bread, yogurt, cereals, quinoa, to name a few. A bit of protein and low Index glycemic carbs will make you feel good, and it will prevent muscle soreness.

Three to Four Hours Prior Exercise Session.
Three to four hours before your session, proteins such as fish, chicken, and non-refined carbs like lentils, hummus, brown rice accompanied with salad will be excellent. You can even have a light dessert after your meal. What you should avoid, though, before any workout is gassy food that could make you feel bloated such beans, cabbage Bruxelles or cauliflower. Bear in mind that everyone is different and what is right for you may not be right for someone else.

Before, While, and After a Workout.

Staying hydrated is critical no matter what you do, but especially when you exercise because you lose a lot of water and electrolytes through sweat. Drink a few glasses of water half an hour before your workout, if you can also drink during the session and some extra glasses after your exercise. If you don’t like water, add lemon juice, mint, and a bit of honey. A lack of hydration can make you feel weak during your workout and cause some serious damage. So, drink, drink, and drink!

In Conclusion

As I mentioned previously, eating is quite essential before starting any workout for the simple reason that you burn energy. So don’t exercise without having something to eat and don’t overeat, too. The point is to feel light and energetic during your workout. The rest, your body will take care of it!

What do you eat before your workout? Please, let me know in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “What Food to Eat Before a Workout?”

  1. I usually take one banana before heading out to the gym and that provides me with sufficient energy for about an hour’s workout. Oh, and a glass of water too to keep the hydration going. There’s always a tendency to overeat AFTER the exercise due to intense hunger so I also make sure to take a glass of water first before diving into the food. I think what you choose to eat before and after workouts is equally important to keep the calorie in check.

    • Hi Cathy,

      Yes, a banana gives lots of energy and prepare you for your workout, as it’s packed with potassium. I eat three to four bananas a day:) I love the sweet taste of it. Great that you drink before eating your meal; it really helps cut the appetite.

  2. I have found this article very interesting. I was under the impression wrongly that you should not eat before working out. Maybe that’s where i have been going wrong. I drink a lot of lemon water before exercising and usually have a protein shake just after along with more water. I’m going to try to eat something first and see what difference it makes after a month. 

    • Hi Lisa,

      It’s never too late:) You can have something light to eat just before you start walking. I drink lemon also, but in the early in the morning. It gives me energy and vitamins. Thank you for passing by and for the comment.


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