What Should I Eat Before Working Out?

Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on November 22, 2022
photo of man eating yogurt and fruit after workout

If you’re eating a healthy diet and getting enough calories throughout the day to support your activities, you may not need to nosh before your workout. But if it helps keep your energy level up, snacking can be a good move.

Choosing the right foods helps. And make sure you’re well hydrated before working out. Experts recommend drinking 16-20 ounces of water 1-2 hours before starting your workout.

9 Preworkout Snacks to Try

Experts agree your best bet is a low-fat snack, about 100 to 300 calories, that gives you a mix of protein and complex carbohydrates.

The carbs give you fuel. The protein is for your muscles.

Try these tasty ideas:

  1. Oatmeal with cinnamon and blueberries or dried cranberries
  2. Whole wheat toast topped with nut butter and sliced bananas
  3. Fruit smoothie with yogurt
  4. Greek yogurt with low-fat granola and berries
  5. Half of a turkey sandwich
  6. Raw veggies with hummus for dipping
  7. Whole-grain crackers with 1 ounce of low-fat cheese
  8. Cottage cheese and sliced apples or bananas
  9. Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit

What Not to Eat Before Exercise

Avoid foods that are high in fat or fiber -- both of which can upset your stomach, take longer to deliver energy, and leave you feeling sluggish. Also avoid spicy or unfamiliar foods.

Show Sources


Jenna A. Bell, PhD, RD, co-author, Energy to Burn: The Ultimate Food and Nutrition Guide to Fuel Your Active Life, John Wiley & Sons, 2009.

Farah, N. British Journal of Nutrition, 2013.

Kato, Y. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 2011.

Lockwood, C. Strength and Conditioning Research, 2010.

Currell, K. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2008.

Stark, M. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2012.

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