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Healthy Snack Ideas for Pre and Post Workout Fuel

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Woman eating granola bar

Pre and post-workout snacks play a crucial role in supporting an individual's exercise sports nutrition routine and optimizing their performance and recovery. These snacks provide the necessary fuel and nutrients to enhance energy levels, promote muscle growth, and aid in overall exercise performance.

Here are four reasons why healthy pre workout snacks are important:

Pre-workout snacks provide the body with the necessary carbohydrates to fuel physical activity. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source for the body, and consuming them before a workout helps maintain glycogen stores in the muscles, ensuring a steady and sustained energy release during exercise. This allows individuals to perform at their best, with improved endurance, strength, and focus.

Both pre and post-workout snacks are essential for muscle growth and repair. Pre-workout snacks provide the body with amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, which are necessary for muscle synthesis and recovery. Consuming protein before a workout ensures an adequate supply of amino acids for the muscles, reducing the risk of muscle breakdown during exercise. Post-workout snacks, on the other hand, help replenish glycogen stores and deliver protein to the muscles, facilitating muscle repair and growth.

Post-workout snacks are crucial for optimizing the recovery process. After intense exercise, the body experiences muscle damage and depletion of glycogen stores. Consuming a snack containing carbohydrates and protein within the post-workout window (around 30 minutes to 1 hour after exercise) helps replenish glycogen stores, aids in muscle repair, and reduces muscle soreness. Additionally, post-workout snacks can help regulate the body's inflammatory response, promoting faster recovery.

The timing of pre and post-workout snacks is crucial for nutrient absorption and utilization. Pre-workout snacks should be consumed 1 to 2 hours before exercise to allow for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. This ensures that the body has a readily available source of energy during the workout. Post-workout snacks should be consumed within the optimal window to maximize nutrient absorption and uptake by the muscles, facilitating recovery and adaptation to exercise.

5 Best Pre-Workout Snacks

Banana with Almond Butter

Woman eating breakfast before workout

This simple and convenient snack combines the natural sugars from the banana with the healthy fats and protein from almond and peanut butter together. The carbohydrates from the banana provide quick energy, while the protein and fats from almond butter help sustain that energy throughout your workout.

Bananas are a great source of natural sugars and carbohydrates, which provide a quick and easily digestible source of energy. They are rich in fructose, a type of sugar that is rapidly absorbed by the body and converted into energy. This makes bananas an excellent choice for a pre-workout snack as they can help fuel your exercise session and support optimal performance.

Almond butter, made from ground almonds, is a nutritious spread that adds healthy fats and protein to the snack. Healthy fats from almond butter provide a slow and sustained release of energy, helping to keep you fueled throughout your workout. Protein is important for muscle repair and growth, and including it in your pre-workout snack can support muscle recovery and enhance performance.

Bananas and almond butter are both nutrient-dense foods. Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps maintain proper muscle function and prevent cramping. They also contain vitamin B6, which aids in protein metabolism and energy production. Almond butter is a good source of vitamin E, which has antioxidant properties and helps protect the body's cells from oxidative stress. By combining these two ingredients, you provide your body with a range of essential nutrients that can support overall health and well-being.

Greek Yogurt with Berries

Greek Yogurt with berries

Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein which is essential for muscle repair and growth, and adding berries provides natural sugars and antioxidants. The combination of protein and carbohydrates makes it an ideal pre-workout snack. You can also sprinkle some granola or nuts for added crunch and energy.

The protein in Greek yogurt is also slower to digest compared to carbohydrates, providing a sustained release of energy throughout your workout. Consuming protein before a workout can help support muscle recovery and prevent muscle breakdown during exercise.

Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, are low in calories but rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also contain natural sugars and complex carbohydrates, which are important for sustained energy during exercise. The combination of Greek yogurt and berries provides a balanced mix of nutrients, including carbohydrates for energy and antioxidants to help reduce oxidative stress caused by intense workouts.

Greek yogurt contains probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that support healthy digestion and nutrient absorption. Having a well-functioning digestive system can aid in the efficient breakdown and utilization of nutrients during your workout. Additionally, Greek yogurt has a high water content, contributing to hydration before exercising. Proper hydration is crucial for optimal performance, as it helps maintain fluid balance, regulate body temperature, and support overall cellular function.

Whole Grain Toast with Avocado

Whole grain toast topped with avocado

Whole grain toast is a great source of complex carbohydrates, and avocado adds healthy fats. These carbohydrates take longer to digest compared to simple sugars, ensuring that you have a continuous source of energy during your workout. Complex carbohydrates also help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent energy crashes, allowing you to maintain endurance and performance throughout your exercise session.

This combination provides sustained energy and helps prevent blood sugar spikes during your intense workout too. You can also add a sprinkle of sea salt or a squeeze of lemon juice for extra flavor.

Avocado is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial for cardiovascular health and provide a concentrated source of energy. These fats are metabolized slowly, resulting in a prolonged release of energy. Including healthy fats in your pre-workout snack can help sustain energy levels and promote satiety, preventing hunger pangs during your workout. Moreover, fats are essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are important for overall health and performance.

Avocado is packed with essential nutrients, including potassium, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C, and B-vitamins. Potassium is an electrolyte that aids in muscle contraction and helps prevent muscle cramps. B-vitamins are involved in energy metabolism, ensuring that your body efficiently utilizes the energy from carbohydrates. Vitamin E and vitamin C act as antioxidants, protecting the cells from oxidative stress caused by intense exercise. By consuming whole grain toast with avocado, you provide your body with a range of important nutrients that can support overall health and exercise performance.

Oatmeal with Protein Powder

Steel cut oatmeal with nuts

Oatmeal is a slow-digesting carbohydrate that provides a steady release of energy. Mixing in half a cup or scoop of your favorite protein powder adds extra protein to support muscle repair and growth. You can add fruits, nuts, or a drizzle of honey for added taste.

Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate that provides a steady and sustained release of energy. It is a low glycemic index food, meaning it is digested and absorbed slowly, resulting in a gradual and prolonged increase in blood sugar levels. This slow-release of energy helps provide a stable fuel source during your workout, preventing energy crashes and supporting endurance.

Protein powder, when added to oatmeal, enhances its nutritional profile by providing an additional source of high-quality protein. Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth, as it supplies the amino acids necessary for these processes. Consuming protein supplements before a workout can help reduce muscle breakdown during exercise and support post-workout recovery. Combining protein powder with oatmeal creates a balanced pre-workout snack that can help optimize muscle protein synthesis.

Oatmeal itself is a nutrient-dense food, rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals such as iron and magnesium. By adding protein powder, you further enhance the nutrient content of your pre-workout snack. Protein powder comes in various flavors and formulations, allowing you to customize your oatmeal to suit your taste preferences and nutritional needs. Additionally, you can add other ingredients like fruits, nuts, or a drizzle of honey to enhance the flavor and nutrient profile of your oatmeal with protein powder.

Rice Cakes with Tuna or Chicken

Rice cake topped with avocado and tuna

Rice cakes provide a low-calorie and easily digestible source of carbohydrates. They are light, convenient, and offer a quick source of energy. Tuna, on the other hand, is a lean protein source. Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth, and consuming it before a workout can help minimize muscle breakdown during exercise. The combination of rice cakes and tuna provides a balanced mix of carbohydrates and protein, which can fuel your workout and support muscle recovery.

Rice cakes are a portable snack that can be easily carried with you to the gym or any workout location. They require no preparation and are ready to eat. Similarly, canned tuna is a convenient and readily available source of protein. By combining these two ingredients, you have a pre-workout snack that can be consumed on the go, ensuring you have the necessary nutrients before your exercise session.

Rice cakes and tuna, particularly if you opt for water-packed tuna, are relatively low in fat. While some healthy fats are beneficial for sustained energy, having a lower fat content in your pre-workout snack can help prevent any discomfort or heaviness in the stomach during exercise. This can be especially useful for individuals who prefer eating a lighter pre-workout snack or those who experience digestive issues with higher fat intake before working out.

Remember, the quantity and timing of your pre-workout snack will depend on your individual needs, the intensity of your workout, and personal preferences. It's always a good idea to experiment with different snacks to find what works best for your body and energy requirements.


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