Snacks You Should Eat Before You Work Out
You already know that getting protein after a workout will help build your muscles. But what you may not realize is that the foods you eat before you work out are just as important as those you eat afterward.
Putting the right fuel in your tank before you work up a sweat translates to a more productive, better exercise session, according to Muscle & Fitness. By eating a snack or small meal 30 to 60 minutes before you start exercising, you’ll have the energy you need but won’t run the risk of feel bloated or sluggish, and you’re less likely to experience an upset stomach, say the experts at Bodybuilding.com.
Some snacks are better fuel for your body than others, though. To help maximize your workout and get fit faster, here are five snacks to try before you hit the gym.
1. Greek Yogurt Banana Bread
The carbohydrates in bananas give you the energy you need to power through a training session, while the fruit’s mega-dose of potassium helps maintain nerve and muscle function, Dr. Louise Burke, head of Sports Nutrition at the Australian Institute of Sport, told Men’s Fitness. She suggests pairing bananas with Greek yogurt for a pre-workout snack. This recipe for healthy banana bread from Running with Spoons does just that. Plus, it uses all-natural maple syrup as a sweetener, which is less likely to cause gas or bloating than refined sugar, according to Health magazine.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 large, ripe bananas (roughly 1 cup mashed)
- ½ cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup brown sugar (optional; omit if you prefer a less-sweet bread)
- ½ cup chocolate chips, raisins, or nuts (optional)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-by-5-inch bread pan.
Add the flour, baking soda, and salt to a large bowl, and stir until well combined.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the mashed bananas, Greek yogurt, maple syrup, brown sugar, and optional add-ins. Mix until well combined.
Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring gently to combine. Be careful not to overmix.
Pour the banana bread batter into the loaf pan, making sure you have an even layer. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer bread to rack to cool completely.
2. Crockpot Blueberry Steel Cut Oatmeal
If you’re looking to fuel your morning workout, you can’t go wrong with a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal topped with fresh berries. “The steel-cut oats are loaded with carbohydrates which are slowly digested to keep you full during your workout and the berries provide extra carbs as well as antioxidants to fight against workout-induced stressors on the body,” dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, the author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, told Everyday Health.
You can prep this crockpot oatmeal the night before so that you can eat and get out the door for your morning run that much faster. Recipe from Hummusapien.
- 1 cup steel-cut oats
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- ¼ cup granola
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2 cups water
- 1 to 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions: Coat the inside of the crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. Add all the ingredients (except the vanilla) to the crockpot, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 2½ hours. Stir in vanilla, then serve.
3. Apple Sandwiches with Granola and Nut Butter
It may remind you of grade-school snack time, but apples and peanut butter actually give you the energy you need for a intense workout. “You get a good mix of natural sugars, plus the protein and good fats from the peanut butter lower the snack’s GI (glycemic index),” registered nutritionist Carina Norris told Men’s Health.
You could always spread some peanut butter on an apple slice, but these sandwiches are more fun to eat, plus they also include granola, another good source of pre-exercise fuel. Recipe from Whole Foods Market.
- 2 small apples, cored and cut crosswise into ½-inch thick rounds
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
- 3 tablespoons peanut or almond butter
- 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons granola
Directions: If you plan to prepare your snack now to eat later, brush the apple slices with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Otherwise, skip this step.
Spread one side of half of the apple slices with peanut or almond butter then sprinkle with chocolate chips and granola. Top with remaining apple slices, pressing down gently to make the sandwiches. Transfer to napkins or plates, and serve.
4. Berry Smoothie
Smoothies are the perfect snack when you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen before heading to the gym. Men’s Health recommends sipping on this berry and Greek yogurt smoothie before your morning workout. The yogurt is an excellent source of protein, while the raspberries provide plenty of fiber.
- 6 ounces Greek yogurt
- 1 cup raspberries
- ½ cup non-fat milk
- ½ cup ice cubes
Directions: Combine all the ingredients in a blender, and process until fully combined.
5. Mediterranean Turkey Wrap
A small turkey sandwich is the perfect pre-exercise snack, according to WebMD, as it delivers a combination of muscle-building protein and energy-boosting carbs. This recipe from Iowa Girl Eats also includes hummus, another healthy source of protein.
- 1 flour tortilla
- 2 to 3 tablespoons roasted garlic or roasted red pepper hummus
- 2 to 3 slices low-sodium roasted deli turkey
- Sliced cucumber
- Sliced tomato
- Sliced red onion
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
Directions: Spread the hummus on the tortilla. Top with turkey, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, and chopped olives. Roll up, slice in half on the diagonal, and serve.
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