What Should I Eat 30 Minutes Before a Workout?

Reviewed on 7/16/2021

Your pre-workout meal often depends on your choice of workout. The best things to eat 30 minutes before a workout include oats, protein shakes, bananas, whole grains, yogurt, fresh fruit, boiled eggs, caffeine and smoothies.
Your pre-workout meal often depends on your choice of workout. The best things to eat 30 minutes before a workout include oats, protein shakes, bananas, whole grains, yogurt, fresh fruit, boiled eggs, caffeine and smoothies.

Your pre-workout meal often depends on your choice of workout. Some people prefer doing a “fasted cardio.” This means they run, swim, cycle or jog on an empty stomach because it speeds up the burning of calories. For others, it is a must to munch on a little something before they work out.

Eating before a workout is especially recommended if you want to try resistance training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or lifting weights. Each individual needs to try and determine their pre-workout meal. An ideal pre-workout meal should be low in fat, moderate in protein and high in complex carbs. This type of meal provides bursts of energy for a resistance workout and spares your muscles from breaking down. The examples may include

Oats

  • During your workout, oats can act as a go-to pre-workout meal. Much like whole grains, they supply tons of energy that are released slowly.
  • Any type of oats, such as steel-cut or whole, may provide a fantastic pre-workout meal. Have oatmeal with added raisins, mashed banana, figs and some honey drizzled over it.

Protein shakes

  • Many studies have reported the potential of pre-workout protein consumption to boost athletic performance.
  • Having protein shakes (in water or low-fat milk) just before exercising can increase muscle protein synthesis and is the best morning pre-workout meal.

Bananas

  • Bananas are considered the best morning pre-workout meal.
  • Bananas have double the number of carbs compared to other fruits, such as apples and oranges, which means that they are a more substantial snack that could fuel a prolonged workout.
  • Eating half a banana with peanut butter is actually a good way to add some protein and fat to your pre-workout meal. This may help stabilize blood sugar levels throughout your workout. You may add banana slices to some low-fat milk as well.

Whole grains

  • ?Whole grains are complex carbs that pack energy. The carbohydrates are slowly released into the bloodstream and help maintain blood sugar levels. 
  • This could enable you to sustain energy levels through an endurance workout longer than 40 minutes.
  • Whole grain dishes include quinoa salads, millet bread and spiced yogurt, whole bread toast, etc.

Yogurt and fresh fruit

  • If you have about half an hour before your workout, unsweetened yogurt and fruit can be a practical snack. This is a good source of carbohydrates, some fluid and nutrients too, making it the best morning pre-workout meal.

Boiled eggs

  • Boiled eggs are a great source of protein and their yolk has plenty of nutrition. Combine this with a slice of whole-wheat bread to boost your energy levels.

Caffeine

  • Caffeine is one of the most tried-and-tested ways to boost energy.
  • Strong coffee or an energy drink before a workout will give you a great boost.
  • Studies have also shown caffeine has a positive impact on workouts for people who enjoy regular exercise sessions.
  • Always have caffeine with some fruit, nuts or toast to avoid jitteriness that accompanies caffeine intake.

Smoothies

  • Fresh smoothies are an ideal energy source because they are simple to prepare and provide the nutrients that you need before working out. Avoid sugar and include vegetables in smoothies. Add unsweetened yogurt to your smoothies to give them bulk and flavor.

If it's been a while since your last meal and you want to boost your energy with a snack before a workout, try snacking on easy-to-digest carbs, such as grains, fruits or vegetables and protein (dairy, meat or protein powders, such as collagen peptides or whey protein isolate). Bananas with peanut butter and Greek yogurt with some fruit are good snack options to eat 30 minutes to one hour before workout.

What should I eat after working out?

Carbohydrates are usually recommended after your workout, but protein is also important for muscle recovery and repair. Have 10 grams of protein if working out strenuously for 30 minutes. You could also have

  • Chocolate milk (or chocolate-flavored protein shake)
  • Nuts, such as almonds, cashews or pistachios
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • A hard-boiled egg and fruit
  • A smoothie with a full scoop of protein
  • One serving of turkey
  • Cheese with a piece of fruit
  • Hydration is just as important as fueling. Drink water as recommended for your age.

Why does pre- and post-workout nutrition matter?

Following the basics of how to do it right and finding out what works best for you can help you feel fueled and energized after working out. When we feel good during exercise, we are much more likely to go back for more. Eating before and after exercise helps reduce hunger and prevents sugar dips during your session. Furthermore, workout meals provide fuel to support the activity of your muscles and brain, giving you the energy to push harder and longer.

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References
YMCA of Middle Tennessee: "When and What Should I Eat Before a Workout?" https://www.ymcamidtn.org/healthy-living-resources/blog/ask-rds-when-and-what-should-i-eat-workout

EatRight: "Timing Your Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition." https://www.eatright.org/fitness/exercise/exercise-nutrition/timing-your-pre-and-post-workout-nutrition

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