4 Foods to Eat to Fuel Your Workouts (and What to Avoid)

Anju Mobin - Writer for Trim Down Club
By Anju Mobin
Davor Štefanović - Editor for Trim Down Club
Edited by Davor Štefanović

Published May 15, 2023.

A pre-workout meal consisting of delicious egg omelet with banana and Greek yoghurt

Whether you're chasing weight loss or muscle gain, maintaining energy throughout your workout is crucial. Avoiding early fatigue and muscle cramps is equally important. Both hydration and pre-workout nutrition play key roles in your workout performance and post-workout recovery.

Nutrition-wise, consuming high-quality, nutrient-dense foods before your workout can enhance your performance, maintain optimal blood glucose levels, ward off muscle cramps, and boost recovery post-workout. Ideally, your pre-workout meal should be rich in complex carbohydrates, low in fat, and moderate in protein.

Some foods are pre-workout staples, but are they really good for you? Let's explore which you should eat and which you should avoid.

4 Best Foods to Fuel Your Workouts

  • Yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Oatmeal
  • Eggs

1. Yogurt: A Protein-Packed Pre-Workout Snack

Q: Is yogurt a good pre-workout snack? Does it pack enough protein?

Absolutely! Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is an exceptional source of protein. This nutrient is essential for repairing muscle damage and facilitating recovery after your workout. Greek yogurt, in particular, boasts twice the protein content of regular yogurt.

Yogurt is an ideal pre-workout snack because it's satiating without making you feel overly full. For an energy-packed snack, top a bowl of yogurt with homemade granola or antioxidant-rich fruits like raspberries and blueberries. Enjoy this one to two hours before your workout.

2. Bananas: Nature's Energy Bars

Q: Should you eat a banana before a workout?

Indeed! Bananas are a fantastic choice for fueling your workouts. They're low in calories and virtually fat-free, but they're rich in carbohydrates, which will keep you energized throughout your workout. Plus, their high potassium content aids in muscle function and helps prevent cramps.

Banana Bonus:

Bananas are a great source of Vitamin B6, which plays a crucial role in brain development and function.

Consume your banana 30 to 60 minutes before your workout for the best results. To make it a more fulfilling snack, pair it with a tablespoon of almond butter or peanut butter.

3. Oatmeal: Complex Carbs for Sustained Energy

Q: Can I eat oatmeal before a workout?

For a meal rich in complex carbs, look no further than oatmeal. The slow-release carbs in oats provide a steady stream of energy throughout your workout, while the fiber content aids in digestion. Top your oatmeal with fruits or a spoonful of nut butter for added protein. Keep in mind that it's best to consume oatmeal about two hours before your workout to give your body time to digest.

4. Eggs: The Bodybuilder's Best Friend

Q: Should you eat eggs before a workout?

Without a doubt! Eggs are a fantastic pre-workout food, rich in high-quality protein that can help repair and build muscle tissue. Plus, they're packed with essential vitamins and minerals that aid in energy production. The best part? They're versatile, meaning you can enjoy them in numerous ways – scrambled, hard-boiled, poached, or even in an omelet. Eating an egg or two about two to three hours before your workout can provide the energy you need to power through.

What Not to Eat Before a Workout

While it's essential to fuel your body before a workout, certain foods can hinder your performance. Here are some foods to avoid:

  • Fatty Foods: Foods high in fat slow down digestion and can lead to discomfort during your workout. This includes items like fried foods and full-fat dairy products.
  • Sugary Foods: While a little sugar can provide a quick energy boost, too much can lead to a sugar crash in the middle of your workout. Avoid candy, sugary drinks, and desserts before exercising.
  • Spicy Foods: Spicy foods can cause indigestion or heartburn, especially when you're moving around during your workout.
  • Protein bars: Despite their health-conscious image, many protein bars contain high amounts of sugar and minimal protein. It's better to opt for Greek yogurt instead.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol is dehydrating and can negatively affect your performance during a workout. It's best to save the beer or wine for after your exercise session.
  • Soda: Far from being a good hydration option, drinking soda before workout can actually dehydrate you, making your workout more challenging.

Watch Out for Protein Bars!

Despite their health-conscious image, many protein bars contain high amounts of sugar and minimal protein. It's better to opt for Greek yogurt instead.

Fuel Up and Power On

To ensure you have enough energy for an effective workout session, focus on consuming nourishing meals high in protein one to two hours before your workout. Adequate hydration is also key: replenish the water lost through sweating to prevent heat cramps.

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