10 Best Foods to Eat Before Your Workout

Getting ready for the gym starts with a good snack. Here's what you should eat about 45 minutes pre-workout.

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Healthy strawberry smoothie in a mason a jar glass with scattered berries over a rustic wood background
Shutterstock / JeniFoto

Strawberry Smoothie

Strawberries contain simple carbohydrates (carbs that can be broken down quickly to be used as energy). They have potassium, too! From a workout standpoint, the sugars will give your body an energy boost and the potassium will help prevent any muscle cramping. Looking for more? Try these amazing energy smoothies.

Make this Healthy Fruit Smoothie before your next workout.

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Peanut butter and raspberry jelly sandwich on wooden background.
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Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich

If you work out in the morning, consider having a PB&J. Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain eight grams of protein, and one tablespoon of jelly contains 12 grams of sugar. Be sure to enjoy on a slice of hearty whole grain bread like this one!

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Blueberry and raspberry parfaits in mason jars,
Shutterstock / JeniFoto

Greek Yogurt with Fruit & Granola

Consider having plain Greek yogurt with fruit and granola before a workout. The healthy sugars in the fruit and granola will send quick-digesting carbs to your muscles for energy. Plus, one individual container of Greek yogurt contains about 17 grams of protein. Power up!

(Check out this protein-rich parfait recipe, too.)

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Organic cottage cheese in a white ceramic bowl on the kitchen table. Dairy products for the healthy breakfast.
Shutterstock / Sunlike

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese contains a significant amount of protein—about 25 grams per cup. It’s made of whey protein and casein protein; casein will feed your muscles over a long period of time while whey helps your body burn fat and build muscle. It’s a win-win snack.

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fresh beet juice with mint leaf in a glass

Beet Juice

Beets are rich in nitrates, so drinking beet juice pre-workout will help facilitate more nitric oxide production within the body. (It sounds too science-y, but bear with us.) Nitric oxide relaxes your blood vessels so oxygen can flow more freely. That means you’ll be able to power through a workout more efficiently!

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Fresh milk, chocolate, blueberry and banana drinks on table, assorted protein cocktails.
Shutterstock / Aleksey Korchemkin

Whey Protein Coffee Shake

Drinking caffeine pre-workout will provide you with extra energy, and adding whey protein will fuel your body with exactly the right amount of carbohydrates and protein. (Bonus: Whey protein contains all of the essential amino acids, which help build and repair muscles.)

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Homemade peanut butter and bananas. Homemade peanut butter ingredients: peanuts (roasted, unsalted, shelled), peanut oil, honey. No salt, no sugar.

Banana with Peanut Butter

To prevent any muscle cramps during a workout, consider fueling up with bananas. One banana has about 420 mg of potassium, which will get your body ready to work!

(For a Saturday morning splurge, you might even have banana pancakes for breakfast.)

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The GU energy sports nutrition energy gel, Mandarin Orange & Tri Berry designed to help athletes perform their best in sports
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Gu Gels

If you’re on the go and don’t have enough time to digest a proper pre-workout meal every day, try Gu Energy Gels. Gu Gels have about 450 mg amino acids, 55 mg sodium, 20 mg caffeine and about 22 grams of carbohydrates. In other words, it’s exactly what you need to replenish energy!

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No baking granola bars on white wooden table.
Olga Dubravina/Shutterstock

Granola Bars

You want a nutritious pre-workout boost? Granola bars are easy to make–and some recipes don’t even require the use of an oven. Use any ingredients including dried blueberries, cashews, almonds, dates and honey.

Here’s our expert how-to guide on making ’em yourself!

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Healthy breakfast with high fibre bran flakes, blueberry and banana
Shutterstock / Brian A Jackson

Healthy Cereal

Cereal is quick and easy, and something that you can eat about an hour before your workout. (Here are the healthiest cereals you can eat.) Pair the cereal with skim milk to create a nice ratio of protein to carbohydrates. To add more simple carbs for energy, toss in fresh fruit.

Pick one of these snacks, and get ready to feel the power during your workout.

Courtney Anaya
Courtney Anaya is a nutritionist and a certified personal trainer through ACE. She holds a BS in dietetics from James Madison Univeristy, and has an MS in human nutrition and functional medicine through the University of Western States. She has written nutrition content for Muscle & Fitness/Hers, Vitamin Retailer, and Natural Practitioner magazines. Her counseling experience entails sports nutrition, weight management, pre- and postnatal nutrition, and pediatric nutrition.