Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

What Should I Eat Before Exercising?

Our fitness expert tells you which foods will fuel your workout, plus when to eat them.
By
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD

Q: What's the best snack before working out? How long before my workout should I eat it?

A: First, be sure you really need a snack. Generally, you don't need to eat before exercise unless you tend to run low on energy during your workouts, or it's been more than a couple of hours since your last meal.

The best time to eat is about 30 minutes before you begin to exercise, and the best snack is one that combines carbs and protein, with an emphasis on the carbs. You don't need a lot of food, by the way. For carbs, aim for the equivalent of half of a bagel or a large banana; for protein, consider a couple tablespoons of peanut butter or a small cup of low-fat or nonfat yogurt. If fresh food isn't an option, look for energy bars with 25 to 40 grams of carbohydrate and about 10 grams of protein. 

Best foods to avoid? Go easy on warm fluids (which tend to speed food through your intestines) as well as milk and high-fat or high-fiber foods, all of which can upset your stomach. Eating too much fat can also leave you feeling sluggish. And of course, avoid high-calorie snacks if you're watching your weight.

Find more articles, browse back issues, and read the current issue of "WebMD the Magazine." 

Reviewed on February 25, 2014

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

Wet feet on shower floor tile
Slideshow
Flat Abs
Slideshow
 
Build a Better Butt Slideshow
Slideshow
woman using ice pack
Quiz
 

man exercising
Article
7 most effective exercises
Interactive
 
Man looking at watch before workout
Slideshow
Overweight man sitting on park bench
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

pilates instructor
Slideshow
jogger running among flowering plants
Video
 
Teen girl jogging
Article
Taylor Lautner
Article