As you may know now, the world of fitness is extremely subjective. What works for you may not work for me, and what works greatly for me, may be terrible for you.
For example, I hate doing “fasted cardio”, I literally feel like I’m going to pass out. However, I know people who really thrive when doing cardio before eating, because their calorie burning speed goes up.
Something similar happens to me with pre-workout snacks. I usually eat something an hour before heading to the gym. If I miss that little snack one day, it’s a terrible day for me, my stomach will start grumbling in the middle of the session. Not funny, not a good training day either.
What are pre-workout snacks? How do they work?
Basic human body functioning: food gives us energy, we need that energy to move, lift weight, run, etc. So, for some people, having a snack before their exercise sessions gives them an extra boost, more energy, more strength, and going a bit deeper; it also helps them in terms of muscle recovery, muscle growth, performance, and the overall response of their body.
Of course, pre-workout snacks work differently depending on a lot of factors. You may want to have different things when you’re doing a low-intensity session than when you’re doing HIIT. Snacks may also vary depending on how far in time you’re eating them before your session.
How do I know what’s the best snack for my routines?
Let’s see how macro-nutrients can help you decide which snack if the best for you:
Carbs are the body’s main fuel, and exercise takes a lot of energy from your body, so having simple carbs that are easy to digest will give you that extra fuel you need without making you feel numb or sleepy.
Proteins are builders, you want them for your muscles (from growth to recovery), so they should be present in your snacks to help your muscles respond better to your training.
Fats take a little bit longer to digest, so they are not the best macros to include in a pre-workout snack, however, they can work fine for low-intensity training.
How much time you have before your training
Then, we have the timing! Because our body takes its time to digest food, you should know what to eat depending on how much time you have before your training begins:
If you have less than an hour before your training starts:
Choose easy-to-digest things like:
- A banana or an apple and peanut butter
- One hard-boiled egg
- A cup of Greek yogurt
- A granola bar
If you have more than an hour before your training starts:
You can choose things that will keep you satisfied a bit longer:
- Whey protein shake
- A PB&J sandwich
- Oatmeal topped with fruits
- Fruit parfait (Greek yogurt topped with fruits and granola
If you have two or three hours before your training starts:
Rather than a snack, this could be a whole meal, so try to choose things that take longer to digest and you’re sure they’ll keep you satisfied:
- A salad with a Greek yogurt dressing, nuts, and lean protein
- A sandwich with eggs or lean protein, and a side salad
- A well-balanced meal with all three macros.
Something you need to remember
As established before, pre-workout snacks work differently in every person. You should know that finding the perfect snack is a matter of trial and error, so feel free to test and try varying the timing and the macronutrients until you find the ones that work best for you, your training, and your goals.