Feeding your body before and after every workout is essential for burning the most calories, staying energized, building lean muscle, losing weight, and speeding up recovery. You’ve got to have energy to ensure an effective workout, so fuelling your body with the right food before your workout is key. This way you’ll not only have an abundance of energy and stamina, but you’ll also help prevent low blood sugar which can often lead to light-headedness and fatigue during your workout.
To help prevent the feeling of low-energy and famishment, opt for a mix of carbohydrates and a little bit of protein to give you the energy to power on through that spin class!
Here are my top pre-workout snack do’s and don’ts to help you get the most out of your workout:
Bananas are loaded with easily digested and energising carbohydrates, plus they are packed with potassium which helps maintain nerve and muscle function.
Fuelling up on carbs before a workout means you’re less likely to wane halfway through your workout, or you feel insanely tired afterwards.
If you’re in a rush, a medium banana 30mins – 1hr before your workout will provide you with a good spurt of energy before your workout and will help prevent muscle cramps and replenish the potassium that you lose when you sweat.
If you have more time, opt for either a banana filled smoothie by combining 1 banana with half a cup of spinach, half a cup of almond milk and a scoop of a plant-based protein powder.
Alternatively try a combo of Banana, mango or pineapple, kale or spinach, hemp hearts with either green tea, almond milk or water for a good pre workout fuel.
Other options include slicing a banana in half and spreading it with 2 tablespoons of almond butter*, adding banana coins to your morning porridge, banana pancakes, rye, wholemeal or sprouted bread with tahini/almond butter/peanut butter* topped with banana coins or how about banana sushi?
If bananas are not up your ally, snacking on fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, nectarines or berries is totally fine too 🙂
Unsweetened dried fruit can be an excellent source of healthy carbohydrates, and when paired with a handful of nuts, they can be a perfect pre-workout snack for anyone who’s on the go or has limited time.
*Just remember that nut butters will take longer to digest so make sure to have these snacks a good couple of hours before exercising to avoid reflux or indigestion)
Oats are full of slow releasing carbohydrates, meaning a nice steady stream of carbs are released into your blood stream over time, allowing for consistent energy levels throughout your workout.
Oats also contain B vitamins, which help convert carbohydrates into energy, so you’ll be raring to go afterwards!
Of course porridge is often the first thing we connect with oats, and it is certainly one of my all-time favourite ways to consume them. Try combining rolled oats almond/rice/oat/hemp milk, water and a dash of your chosen sweetener (maple syrup, honey/coconut sugar) plus fruit such as banana, apple, blueberries, dried apricots or raisins.
Other options include homemade Granola topped with dairy free milk of your choice, energy balls, energy bars or smoothies.
Not a fan of oats?
Try amaranth porridge instead.
Combine amaranth with almond milk and top it off with a sprinkle of hemp seeds or a handful of nuts and fresh berries. This carb and protein combo will provide longer, sustained energy to get you through your workout.
Consume a minimum of 30 minutes before you begin exercising, though preferably 2-3 hours
The carbohydrates found in fruits (and less fibrous veg) can be directly turned into glucose, the form of energy your cells need to help you thrive and power on through that workout. Don’t skip on the fruit and other high carb foods. These are your fuel!
Fruit smoothies are easy to consume and are rapidly digested making them the perfect pre-workout fuel to ensure you’re topped up with a tonne of carbs, protein, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes.
I’m a big fan of smoothie bowls, especially before my yoga classes as they keep me fuelled, hydrated and energised to the max! I eat them a minimum of 2 hours before class so it’s all digested and doesn’t slosh around during class.
Try this Acai smoothie bowl using NUA Naturals Acai powder
If you can, try making up a chia pudding the night before and enjoy it either as a full-on delicious breakfast, or whip it out as a pre-workout snack so you’re filled with carbs, protein and omega-3’s.
Check out this Raspberry and Chia Seed Super Food Parfait for a totally satisfying pre workout snack, or for a more simple recipe, try this chia pudding recipe. Feel free to add in some fruit for a quick burst of energy, a handful of nuts for added protein.
If you’re really in a rush and have no time to whip something up in the kitchen, you can always opt for an energy or protein bar like Bounce balls, Quest bars or Clif builders protein bars.
They’ll give you a good burst of energy that will sustain you through your workout. Then you can fuel yourself up on some delicious post-workout foods to support your recovery.
It’s not exactly a snack, but it’s still very important!
Don’t forget to fill up your water bottle before you hit the gym or take that class so you stay hydrated throughout your workout. It’s never a good idea to start a workout with a water deficit. Make sure to stay well hydrated before, during, and after exercise. Water and Coconut water are excellent options.
Pre-Workout Snacks to Avoid
Here’s a humorous quote I recently found that really sums up the next part of this post.
“Having a full stomach in yoga class is like eating a three-bean salad before a first date: You just don’t want to do it.”
Some foods are best not to be consumed before a workout, so to save belly ache or bloating I’ll list a few of the top offenders below.
Of course everyone is different, so some people may be ok with consuming these foods before a workout, whilst others may feel they weigh them down during a workout, or cause gas formation and stomach cramping that ultimately affects their performance.
See how you feel and make up your own mind on what suits you personally digestion wise.
High Fibre vegetables like cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage etc.).
Meals containing bran or beans (need I say more?)
Fatty foods – you’ll feel full and sluggish and you may find you cramp up easily due to the fact that fat is very slow to digest. Even meals with good fat like peanut butter or a high-fat yogurt should be avoided very close to a workout as these are also absorbed more slowly, and could lead to you feeling uncomfortable (everybody is different, so see how you feel when you consume them. Aim to consume those 2-4 hours before a workout if you do find some digestive discomfort, or avoid until after your workout).
You may also find that richer, heavier foods could repeat on you, especially during a yoga class where you’re twisting and turning, which might be less appealing the second time around!
Processed Carbs – Although carbs are good, you should not get them from simple, processed sources like candy. These foods are not great for you to start with, but they can also cause blood sugar irregularities and will probably cause a sugar crash in the middle of your workout.
Natural, unprocessed carbs from fruit and veggies are a much better choice.
Don’t over eat – though it goes without saying, don’t overeat before you workout. Eating too much can cause indigestion, sluggishness, nausea or even vomiting.
If you’re going to eat a large meal, consume it 3-4 hours before a workout.
Depending on your activity of choice, you want to eat your snack from between 30mins – 3 hours before your workout.
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*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication