One of the most critical parts of working out has nothing to do with exercise, but in knowing when and what to eat. Health professionals recommend choosing your pre-workout meals wisely. If chosen correctly, pre-workout meals can give you optimum results and support weight loss. You will perform you routine better and strengthen your muscles so they can heal faster.
Delicious Pre-Workout Meal Ideas & Recipes
Here are some tips, tricks, recipes, and meals to get you started in the right direction.
First, let’s look at how each nutrient affects your body and why it will matter if you eat it before working out. By breaking it down to three categories, carbs, protein, and fat, you can learn the importance of each nutrient, why your body needs it, and how your workout routine will be affected. From there, you can start customizing your own meals when you know why each portion is added.
In order to give a workout your all, you need glycogen. Glycogen is your body’s source of energy that is stored in the liver and muscles. Carbs work fast, and give you immediate energy upon consuming them. For an intense workout, is it recommended that you eat no more than 50 carbs but no less than 25 carbs.
The length of the workout matters as well. If you will be working out for less than an hour, it is suggested you eat even less carbs. It has also been suggested that carbs work better pre-cardio and protein pre-strength training. But a mixture of both is ideal.
If you’re a body-builder, you may want to eat 50 grams of carbs an hour or two before working out, but if you’re only trying to lose weight, you may want to eat only 25 grams of carbs.
Any of the recipes here will work for anyone, but for optimum results, you want to determine the best time and amount of carbs to eat pre-workout.
Protein is the most important nutrient for working out. Studies show that consuming protein pre-workout enhances muscle growth substantially. About 20 grams of protein is normally ideal for an hour long high-intensity workout. When you eat protein before working out, your muscles will feel better, heal better, and perform better.
Protein is less picky and much slower than carbs, so there is less of a difference between the amount you eat and when you eat it. Body-builders and those who want to lose fat eat close to the same amount. There is also little difference in when you eat them. Three hours before or half an hour before, the amount varies ever so slightly.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I’m trying to burn fat, not consume it. But we’re not talking about saturated fats found in potato chips and pizza, but rather healthy omega-3 fats. This means eating five grams of healthy fats before workouts can add a healthy balance to your meal. It can also keep your blood sugar and hormone levels in check. Fats are an important part of any diet, even healthy ones!
You can get the needed healthy fats from:
- Chia seeds
- Soy beans
All of these foods are high in Omega-3s. The healthiest fat you can get! Crazy how you can feel good about eating fat, right?
Pre-Workout Quick Snacks
in general, one should not eat directly before working out. Depending on the person, the meal should be eaten anywhere form 15 minutes to three hours before exercising. After you find your best time to eat in order to maximize performance, then you need to know what to eat.
Here are a few quick ideas:
- Oatmeal with whey protein
- Four egg whites (with two yolks if you are not on a low-fat diet) with veggies and half a grapefruit
- Whole wheat turkey wrap and choice of low-glycemic fruit
- 6oz of grilled chicken breast and half a medium sweet potato
Those are quick and easy snack recipes that should be perfect for your pre-workout. The closer to the workout it is, the less you will eat, as well as the more you will focus on the fast-acting carbs. For even more detailed recipes, keep reading for an abundance of tasty shakes, small snacks, five-minute meals, and luxury treats you can eat pre-workout!
Many men and women prefer a quick protein-filled drink before exercising, and that’s okay. When you think of a protein shake, you may envision of a bland, vanilla concoction with a distasteful aftertaste. But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are plenty of tasty shake recipes that you are sure to love. Check out these amazing shakes!
The citrusy goodness of a fresh orange smoothie is hard to beat. This one is for those orange lovers out there! (1)
- 1 Orange (medium)
- Frozen banana (medium)
- ¼ c almond milk (or orange juice for extra orange flavor)
- 10 large ice cubes
- 10 gram scoop of whey (vanilla or plain)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Optional: sweetener (stevia or honey)
All you have to do is peel the orange, blend, and enjoy!
Almond Coconut Mocha
Just the sound of this one can make your mouth water! Like something you could get from Starbucks on a hot summer day while you’re out shopping with your friends. The serving suggestion is one-quarter to one-half of the batch. That means this one is great for sharing with your workout buddy! (2)
- 1 c Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
- 1 c cold coffee
- 1 tsp. coconut extract
- 1 c ice
- 2 scoops of protein powder (vanilla or your pick)
- 1 tsp. instant coffee granules
- 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
- ⅔ c shredded coconut (sweetened if you don’t mind the sugar)
- 2 tbsp. sugar (or sugar substitute such as stevia or honey)
Again, blend and drink! Add low-fat whipped creamed for an extra fancy treat!
Simple Berry Smoothie
A nice berry smoothie is always a strong choice for a meal before working out. Not everyone likes berries, but those who do, really do! Plus, berries are chock full of antioxidants and are often considered the healthiest fruit in the world!
- 1 c Greek Yogurt
- 1 c blueberries
- 1 c strawberries
- 3 tsp. chia seeds
- Orange Juice to taste
Simply mix and enjoy! You can even add banana if you prefer!
Easy Snacky Snacks
These are for people who like small “meal-like” snacks that aren’t too heavy but can really satisfy your pre-workout craving. They are also great for those with a weak stomach who don’t like eating before working out, but feel the need to. Because sometimes protein shakes or heavy meals are just too much!
PB and Apple Bites
Almost everyone likes peanut butter, but you’re always told it’s off limits. Until now! Quick, easy, salty, crunchy, fruity! What more could you ask for? (3)
- 1 medium sliced apple
- 2 tbs. peanut butter (or almond butter)
- ¼ c raisins
- 1 tsp. chia seeds
Lay out each apple slice, spread on PB, top with raisins, and sprinkle on the ch-ch-ch-chia seeds. Cuter than a kindergarten lunch!
Spicy Avo-Egg Toast
If you like something light, yet still want a full meal, this is perfect. You can whip it up in a jiffy, but it tastes like you really put in the effort. This toast is the perfect balance of light and filling. (4)
- 1 piece of 100% whole wheat, whole grain bread
- Half of a medium avocado
- 1 hard-boiled egg
- Red chili flakes
- Black pepper
Toast the bread, slice the egg, slice the avocado, and sprinkle to taste!
You could probably go to the fridge and find the ingredients to make this one right now. This one is so quick and easy you’ll never stop making it!
- Four slices of turkey lunch meat
- Half an avocado
- A few slices of bell peppers (optional)
- Sour cream
Lay out avocado slices on turkey, dollop sour cream on top, add peppers, and roll them up! Enjoy!
Extra Effort Meals and Snacks
If you’re willing to go that extra mile, you can cook up some meals that will be ready for your workout ahead of time. They won’t take more than 15 minutes, but if you do take that extra time, you can create a few go-to snacks that will make you feel like you ordered in especially for yourself at a generous price.
These things are addictive, so beware of the peanut butter here. Like Reese’s PB on steroids, this will curb your craving.
- 1/2 c peanut butter or almond butter
- 1/4 c coconut palm syrup (or honey)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/3 c whey protein
- 1/3 c flaxseed
- 1/3 c unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 c rolled oats
- 1 tbsp. mini chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp. chia seeds
Combine peanut butter, syrup and vanilla. Add remaining ingredients. Mix very, very well. Form into balls (about 12). Store in fridge for up to a week!
Apricot Energy Bars
Granola bars are good, but they are way too overdone. It’s time for a change! Everyone loves a good bar, and these apricot almond ones are an excellent choice. (6)
- 1 c raw almonds
- 1 c dried apricots
- 1 c pitted dates
- 1/3 c unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3 tbsp. Flaxseed
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
First, process the whole almonds until well ground, but not meal. Add remaining ingredients and process until everything starts to stick together.
Place mixture into a baking dish (9×13) and press down to reach every corner. Place in fridge to set at least 20 minutes. Cut bars into strips and serve. Keep leftovers in refrigerator.
This one is awesome for those who want the heartiest light meal they can find. No need to sacrifice calories for taste. Omelets are great hearty meals that satisfy almost anyone. (7)
- About 5oz of bacon (turkey bacon for low-fat)
- 4 eggs (remove yolks for low-fat)
- 4 egg whites
- 4oz broccoli (chopped)
- 5oz shredded cheese
- 1/4 c milk
- 3 tbsps. Sour cream
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1 chili (for an extra bite)
- 1/2 pepper (red)
- A few parsley sprigs
Preheat the oven at 350F. Beat eggs for 30 seconds, add whites if you haven’t already. Add half of the cheese, milk, sour cream, salt, pepper, and chili.
Cook bacon in skillet, adding peppers and broccoli when almost done.
Add the egg mixture to bacon. Cook for 3 min, stirring occasionally. When half done, transfer to baking dish. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Let cool to touch and enjoy!
The Importance of Water
There is one thing that is even more important than eating before pre-workout. That is drinking water! This needs to be done before, during, and after a workout. In general, it is standard to drink at least 18oz a couple of hours before your workout, 8 ounces directly before your workout, and 8 ounces every 15 minutes during your workout.
Drinking water is crucial for humans so as to stay healthy and not dehydrate. This should especially not be ignored when workout out, even pre-workout.
Conclusion For Pre-Workout Meal Ideas & Recipes
There are a lot of great recipes and meals you can eat pre-workout. No matter what your appetite, taste, or preference. You can eat a small, low-carb snack 15-minutes before you work out or a larger meal with extra carbs three hours before.
You can cook it ahead and have it on hand or grab something quick and easy. What’s important is that you tailor the meal to your needs. The only reason you are working out or eating right is because it is good for you, so make sure you remember to customize the meal to your specific needs. As your age and weight matter, so does the strength of your stomach and just your personal preference in general!
Eating pre-workout doesn’t have to be a struggle, nor does it have to consist of just another three dollar protein bar! Why not try out these amazing recipes and then bookmark the page for easy access!