This Energizing Meal Is Exactly What You Need Before a Workout

Unless you’re working out the moment you leap out of bed in the morning, you should eat something before you exercise to help fuel your body and increase your energy levels. And while a nice healthy snack will certainly suffice, if you’ve got the time, a nice healthy meal is even better. This will keep you from getting too hungry and overeating afterwards.

Of course, you know your pre-workout meal shouldn’t be pizza or ice cream. And if you’re wondering if there’s a perfect meal to enjoy before you work up a sweat, the answer is yes.

To eat or not to eat?

Woman working out in gym

Most of us will not be able to workout on an empty stomach. | Javi Indy/iStock/Getty Images

You may have heard conflicting information about working out on an empty stomach. While working out on an empty stomach is traditionally thought to be a bad idea, the truth is, you can do it and still get in a great workout — but you’ll have to exercise first thing in the morning. And since that’s not feasible for the vast majority of us, your best bet is to eat a healthy meal first.

 How the right food will fuel your body

Healthy Lifestyle Diet

Load up on the good stuff before you workout. | Ltd

Food is fuel, especially when it comes to your pre-workout meals. Your body is your vehicle, so you have to keep your engine running during your exercise session. The American College of Sports Medicine says that adequate fuel and fluid consumption can not only maximize your exercise performance, but will also improve your recovery time and maintain your blood glucose concentration.

When you eat also matters

Runner eating a banana

Eat two hours before your workout. |

Timing your meal is almost as important as the meal itself. If you eat right before a workout, you’ll feel sluggish — but if you wait too long, you’ll only get hungry again mid-Spin class. The ideal time to eat seems to be two hours before your workout. If you wait longer than three hours, you should eat a small snack before you get started.

The perfect combination

Girl tying a shoelace before workout

Make sure you have a good meal before your workout. |

When preparing your pre-workout meal, know that the foods you use can help your body perform better and recover faster. Focus on a combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrates for best results. Protein will improve your athletic performance and keep you fuller longer, fat is a great fuel source, and carbohydrates will give you the energy you need to power through. Your muscles use the glucose from carbs for fuel.

Here’s the perfect pre-workout breakfast

omelet with vegetables

Fill your omelet with the good stuff. |

Working out in the morning or at lunchtime? Try eating a veggie scramble or omelet with two whole eggs, two egg whites, peppers, onions, and cheese. Add half a grapefruit on the side. If eggs make you queasy, make a bowl of oatmeal with whey protein mixed in (great for sensitive stomachs) and have a banana with it.

This pre-workout lunch or dinner will fuel you up

Chicken Wraps on a white plate

A wrap with veggies is a perfect pre-workout meal. | Tuned_In/iStock/Getty Images

If you’re working out in the afternoon or evening, you’ll want a healthy lunch or dinner before you begin. Try a turkey wrap with veggies, adding carbs on the side (like black beans or quinoa) if needed. A 6-ounce grilled chicken breast with yams and asparagus is another perfect pick.

What to avoid

Protein bar

That protein bar might not be the best thing to eat pre-workout. |

It’s not just the pizza box or fast food drive-thru you’ll want to steer clear of before you exercise. Sometimes even healthy foods, such as salad, hummus, and protein bars, can derail a workout. Play around with your own protein-carb-healthy fat combinations and find the ones that work best for your body.

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