Fitness/ Running/ Snacks/ Workouts/ Yoga

5 Pre-Workout Snacks Ideas Specific to Your Workout

I get asked a lot how I fuel before workouts and my short answer is “It depends.” The longer answer is below.

5 Pre-Workout Snacks IdeasBefore CrossFit

I gravitate towards a balance of protein & fat for lifting/CrossFit workouts. I typically eat a couple scrambled eggs or hard boiled eggs before I head out the door.  If I’m really ambitious that week, I’ll make some energy balls to have on hand. I LOVE these tahini energy balls before class; 1-2 is a perfect amount for me. Sometimes I just eat a spoonful of nut butter too. I definitely need fuel before a CrossFit workout, and I find that the warm-up gives my stomach time to digest these options so my food isn’t sitting heavy when I’m doing wall balls or box jumps.

Before Running (4-6 miles)

I rarely eat anything before my mid-week morning runs of 4-6 miles. I usually just have coffee and water and head out the door. If I’m feeling a little weak and tired, I may eat 1/2 a banana, a few fresh figs, a few bites of overnight oatmeal, scrambled eggs or energy balls if I have some around. I just listen to my body in the mornings and pay attention to how my run goes and learn from it. There are supposedly benefits to “fasted cardio” (it’ll burn fat more easily), but I don’t eat mostly because I just can’t stomach it first thing. I know I know, I could wake up earlier but you know that ain’t happening.

Last week I had a morning run that was a perfect example of paying attention and learning. I had a pretty light dinner the night before, and thought I would probably need to eat something before I ran, but I didn’t because I didn’t have any of my options listed above around. My energy levels totally crashed 2 miles in.

Before Running (7+ miles)

When I’m doing longer runs, I have to fuel up pre-run with more than just coffee. This requires getting up a little bit earlier since I need time for my food to digest – at least 30 minutes. This works well if I’m driving somewhere to run; if I’m headed straight from my houses, I have to plan for it. I like these Chocolate Oat Energy Bars, a slice of gluten-free banana bread, or Mesa Sunrise gluten-free cereal with a banana before longer runs. If I don’t have any of that around, I’ll eat a banana with nut butter, scrambled eggs and gluten-free toast, or a microwaved sweet potato drizzled with coconut oil.

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Before Yoga

I can’t have anything in my stomach before yoga or I feel awful the entire time. I typically do yoga in the evening, so I try to eat something 1.5 – 2 hours before class so it has plenty of time to digest. So, if I’m doing a 6:30 PM class, I’ll have a snack around 4:30. Anything that sounds good at the time works since I give my body so much time to digest it. I just don’t want to go into class having not eaten since lunchtime. If I’m doing yoga in the AM, I’ll have something easy to digest, like 1/2 banana, as soon as I wake up.

Before Pure Barre

Pure Barre could not be more different than CrossFit, but I fuel for it the same way – a little protein and fat combo. Nuts, eggs, and energy balls are all favorite go-to’s before Pure Barre. But I have to make sure I have a solid 30-45 minutes for any food to digest before Pure Barre because the warm-up is HARD. You get right to work, right away vs. the warm-up for CrossFit is more low-key and eases you into the workout. If I’m doing Pure Barre in the morning, I stay away from whole nuts as a snack since they can sit heavy. Energy balls and nut butter seem to be okay if I keep the portion small.

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If I could pick only two foods to keep on hand for pre-workout snacks, it’s be eggs and bananas. It sounds strange but I do really well with scrambled or hard boiled eggs before a workout, and when I need more carbs, bananas are a cheap, portable, easy to digest option.

What do you eat before your workouts? Does it vary depending on the workout?

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  • Kay @ Goaloflosing
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    Eggs are a great choice — as I’m eating one right now 🙂

  • Chicago Jogger
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    Great post! I always eat a little something before a run or other workout (plus coffee and water) – usually a banana or a few raw almonds if I’m heading out first thing in the morning.

  • Rachel
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    I’ve never tried eggs pre-workout but you’ve inspired me! I usually do half a banana or toast with peanut butter. I found these little snacking rounds at Whole Foods and love them for pre-workout since a whole slice of toast seems like too much sometimes: http://us.ozerybakeryinc.com/ozery/snackingrounds.php. I keep them in the freezer then I toast one and put a little peanut butter on it.

    • Teri [a foodie stays fit]
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      oooh! those rounds + peanut butter sound perfect! I agree that sometimes toast is too much! Thanks for sharing!

  • Jenna
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    Thank you for sharing this! I typically exercise in the evenings and always eat dinner before and then give it time to digest. I’ve been thinking about trying to get up really early and workout before work, but I figured I’d need to eat something because my body always needs fuel before exercising, but I can’t stomach much that early in the morning either. Maybe I could see how it goes without food beforehand, and if I really need it I could try some of the suggestions you posted.

  • Alyssa @ Renaissancerunnergirl
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    Thanks for sharing! I never used to eat before running, even on long runs – to the point where I actually ran my first half without eating anything before or during, and having only a few sips of water along the way. Since then I’ve realized that fuel is important even though I can’t really stomach much food before 8am (or after 8pm, really, it’s strange) and I try to eat some GF protein pretzels (I like the Kay’s brand) because they’re the plainest most easily digestible thing I’ve found to eat before a race. I can do PB on rice cakes or a banana before a log run, but need at least an hour to digest, so a no-go for early races!

    • Teri [a foodie stays fit]
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      I used to be the same way that I couldn’t eat after 8 PM – I wish I were back in that routine. It’s just impossible since I’ve been doing 6:30 PM Crossfit these days!

      GF protein pretzels?!?! How have I never heard about these? Those sound perfect! Must. find.

  • Julie
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    I find this post very interesting. I’m the same as you re needing an empty stomach for yoga. Isn’t it funny how we can handle having something in our stomach before such a strenuous activity as running, but can’t handle it for yoga?! The yoga class I take is Body Flow, & it’s due to the 2 pilates tracks that I’m wrecked if I have even an ounce of food in my tummy. Blech!

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed
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    I feel like you before yoga, when I do CF. If I have anything in my stomach, I will regret it so much during the WOD haha.

    • Teri [a foodie stays fit]
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      I thought you when I blogged this because I knew you can’t handle food in your stomach before CrossFit. haha! 🙂 #virtualcrossfitfriends

  • Sara @ Oats & Rows
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    I don’t usually like to eat before a run because of my stomach, but I do find myself getting starving after 3 miles. Guess it’s just my body telling me to eeeeeat! For strength/cardio workouts, I try to eat something about 45 minutes before.

  • Jen_Cam
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    Glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to get up an earlier than I have to pre-workout, haha. Sometimes I will have a rice cake with natural PB and a drizzle of honey if I feel starved. I don’t like anything heavy either.

  • Rachel D
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    Thank you so much for publishing this blog! So helpful! I made your tahini energy bites and have tried hard boiled eggs! Both wins! Really appreciate this blog post! 🙂 Thanks

  • Sara Wiles
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    Thank you for this! I’ve an avid Pure Barre goer and struggle with finding the right things. I’m curious to know if you believe in the ‘not eating after a certain time’ theories that are out there? If you work out late, do you eat dinner afterwards?

    • Teri [a foodie stays fit]
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      Hi Sara,

      I don’t believe in the don’t-eat-after-a-certain time for weight loss theory (is that the theory you’re referring to?), but I also haven’t really put it to the test and I don’t have formal nutrition training – I just read a LOT on the topic. I don’t like to eat too late because I don’t sleep well at all if I go to bed right after dinner. However, I often work out in the evenings (at 6:30) and it’s usually 8:30 before I eat dinner, which I don’t really like doing. But, it’s how things are right now!

      I have a friend doing his doctorate in Nutrition… I’m going to ask him his thoughts on it! He recommended the book Nutrient Timing (http://amzn.to/2bu8HCD) to me and I loved it. It’s about how to timing fuel for the best athletic performance, not weight loss. May be worth a read, depending on your goals!