What To Eat Before A Workout? Top 7 Best Pre Workout Meals

What to eat before a workout? What is the best pre workout meal?

When hitting the gym, usually we have a plan about what our workout will consist of, whether it will be chest/tricep, back/bicep etc. but many people do not realise that the workout begins the moment we get out of bed. The right timing and food  that we put in our bodies can energise us, allowing us to train at optimum performance and carry us right through towards the end of our workout.

So what are the “right” foods, and what to eat before a workout will give us the most benefit? Below is a general breakdown of what, why and when to eat your pre workout meal.

According to Kate Comeau dietian, the best meals are one which contains low-glycemic carbohydrates, such as oatmeal or sweet potato. Studies show that carbohydrates can fend off fatigue and help us to maintain endurance in your workout.

Our pre workout meal should also contain protein and a little fat. Protein is important because it will help to kick-start the post workout muscle repair process. Timing however is important, as carbs should be the focus one to two hours before a workout, whereas protein can eaten at a long duration before you exercise. A great way to decrease muscle breakdown during your workout is to make sure you have enough protein beforehand; check out our article on the best protein powder for building muscle for the pros and cons of different protein sources.

Some of the best foods include:

Oatmeal and berries

If you’re wondering what to eat before a workout today, I would recommend oatmeal (muesli) and berries which is at the top of my list. This tasty breakfast food is one of the best to fuel your workout. Oats are packed full of  complex carbohydrates which we digest slowly, giving your body enough energy to power through. This fibre-filled treat will give you a slow, steady supply of energy.

The berries are a great addition because of their high antioxidant profile, which is great for protecting our bodies and adding flavour to this nutritious meal. It also adds some water, not that much but every little helps as hydration is a major factor in athletic performance. I put maca root powder in my Oatmeal every morning for that extra boost and hormone balancing properties, check out our article on the benefits of maca root.



For those of us with limited time to eat in the morning, a banana is a perfect easy-to-grab option for a quick little pre workout meal. The fructose contained is a simple sugar which is very fast acting, however it will not spike insulin levels when eaten in moderation (be careful with overripe bananas if you’re diabetic as they have a higher glycemic index than a normal banana. I would stay away from overripe bananas just in case).

You could add wholemeal toast alongside the fruit, to add a slow-releasing complex carbohydrate to the mix.

One of the main benefits a banana can provide is the presence of potassium, which can help to prevent muscle cramping, aid in muscle maintenance and contribute towards normal nerve function.

Fruit smoothies

Like bananas, smoothies are suitable to grab and drink in the morning rush. It’s best to make your own, including your favourite fruit, Greek yoghurt and perhaps some oats and nuts for consistency. Add some protein like whey or hemp to make it an all-rounded meal in a glass.


The classic omelet is great if you want something substantial and great for muscle building; eggs are the best source of bioavailable protein. Egg whites are a great option if you are trying to lose weight or keep down your body fat percentage, as they contain 4 grams of protein and almost no fat.

Throw in some vegetables like peppers or mushrooms for added nutrients and flavour.


Grilled chicken and sweet potatoes/brown rice

This is a popular pre workout meal, and for good reason. It’s perfect for people who work out after lunch or dinner, want an all rounded meal with enough protein/carbs but want to keep their fat intake low.

The chicken is a lean meat, so it is both low in fat and high in quality, bioavailable protein. Sweet potatoes and brown rice are complex carbohydrates useful for keeping you full and a giving you a slow release of energy. Sweet potatoes also contain a diverse array of nutrients for keeping cells healthy.

If you have enough time for your pre workout meal to digest, this is my favourite option what to eat before a workout because of the slow, steady energy release from the sweet potato and the perfect proportion of nutrient intake.


Greek yoghurt

Greek yogurt is basically yoghurt without the whey. This allows it to contain almost double the amount of protein, yet 38% less sodium and 40% less sugar. It’s slightly lower in carbohydrates so may be best eaten 2-3 hours before a workout, or with added dried fruit. Full-fat yoghurt is best and choose one with no added sugar.

Its also easy to digest, provided you aren’t lactose intolerant. A comparable protein-filled diary product is cottage cheese.

I throw some chia seeds into the mix when preparing my Greek yoghurt, read about the benefits of chia seeds and how they can benefit you both pre, and post workout.

Trail mix

Despite nuts being calorie dense, they are a protein powerhouse filled with vitamins like zinc and magnesium, making them suited to those wanting to gain muscle mass.

You can add a small amount of dried fruit but if you want some fresh, opt for blueberries. These little berries are bursting with anti-inflammatory antioxidants. An addition of chia, pumpkin and sunflower seeds can add more iron, folate, calcium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fibre to the mix, perfect addition of nutrients to your pre workout meal.

With this easy to munch snack, be careful to keep the portion size to around a quarter cup. If this is what to eat before a workout for you, small servings are recommended because the calories can add up very quickly with trail mix! (stay away from pre-made trail mix selections from a shop, make your own and you will be sure to get unsalted nuts/seeds and unsweetened fruit).


There you have it, you must have chosen a favorite pre workout meal from the list, why don’t you share it below? You should now know what to eat before a workout, check out what to eat for your post workout meal with our top 10 list.

Anything to add or any queries? Comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

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