Simple Pre-Workout Meal Ideas

A simple guide to what and when to eat pre-workout | simple pre-workout meal ideas | pre-workout snacks | pre-workout recipes |

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Simple Pre-Workout Meal Ideas

Food = fuel for your workout. Eating too little or not at all before a workout will likely lead to quick fatigue and weakness due to low blood glucose. On the other hand, consuming too much food before exercise may cause stomach discomfort, nausea or cramping. We are going to help you avoid both of those extremes by giving you general guidelines of what to eat, when to eat, and some simple pre-workout meal ideas (recipes included).

Pre-Workout Nutrition Facts

A good pre-workout meal plan should include both carbohydrates and protein.

Of course, carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy. These macro-nutrients can be further broken down into two groups – complex carbs and simple sugars. The type of carbs to eat before an exercise session largely depends on the timing of a meal.

Generally, food sources with simple sugars digest quickly and provide the body with fast acting glucose. For this reason, they make good snacks, which you can eat 30 minutes to an hour before exercise.  Think fruit, juice anything with sugar that is quickly available to your body.

On the other hand, complex or low GI (glycemic index) carbohydrates are best eaten at least 3 hours before workouts since they take longer to digest. On the plus side, such carbohydrates will give the body a slow release of energy, allowing you to exercise for longer without experiencing total fatigue in the middle of your workout.

Be sure to include protein in your pre-workout meal. Proteins consumed pre-workout help to prevent muscle fatigue during the exercise session.

Although high in calories, fats should be avoided before workouts since they metabolize slowly. In fact, they can leave you feeling sluggish and heavy.

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Top 5 Simple Pre-Workout Meal Ideas

 Now that you know what nutrients are most beneficial to the body before exercise, the next step is coming up with a meal plan. Here are a few suggestions for the top 5 foods to eat before a workout. We are also including the recommended meal timing for the various foods to make it even easier for you! That’s just how we roll 😉

  1. Chicken, Brown Rice and Leafy Greens

This dish will fully nourish your body and prepare you for cross fit, a cycling class or going for a hike. A meal like this will provide you with low-fat protein from the lean chicken to promote muscle growth as well as a slow release of energy from leafy greens and the brown rice.

When to eat: 3 hours pre-workout

What to eat: Chicken Kale Rice Bowl from Healthy Nibbles and Bits


  1. Wholegrain Bread

Adding wholegrain bread to your pre-workout diet is highly recommended if you engage in endurance training activities like running, cycling or swimming. When consumed 2-3 hours pre-workout, wholegrain bread will help your body to increase sugar reserves and provide a slow release of energy to fuel you throughout the exercise session. Toast would be an easy choice for simple pre-workout meal ideas, but we have included a more tempting option for you to try below.

When to eat: 2-3 hours pre-workout

What to eat: Cucumber, Hummus and Avocado Toast from Kitchen Treaty

A simple guide to what and when to eat pre-workout | simple pre-workout meal ideas | pre-workout snacks | pre-workout recipes |

  1. Eggs

Eggs are great pre-workout foods for bodybuilders. Whether you like them fried, scrambled or boiled, they are rich in protein. As a result, eggs supply the body with branched chain amino acids, which prevent muscle breakdown in case sugar reserves run out as you exercise. Eggs should be consumed at least 2 hours before your workouts to ensure ample digestion time.

When to eat: 2 hours pre-workout

What to eat: Healthy Egg Muffin Cups from A Sassy Spoon


  1. Greek Yogurt and Dried Fruit

Dried fruits and yogurt can be consumed about an hour before exercise to provide the body with a quick source of simple sugars and protein. For the best results, opt for Greek yogurt, which tends to have the highest protein content.

When to eat: 1.5 hours pre-workout

What to eat: Organic Dried Cherries and Greek Yogurt

A simple guide to what and when to eat pre-workout | simple pre-workout meal ideas | pre-workout snacks | pre-workout recipes |

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  1. Apples

Sometimes it can be challenging to find time to put a meal or even a wholesome snack together before heading out to the gym or running trail. In such cases, a quick dose of carbohydrates is your best bet to invigorate the body before the workout. Apples are healthy energizing foods that will boost your glucose levels when consumed even 30-40 minutes before a workout.

When to eat: 30 minutes pre-workout

What to eat:  Apple Cookies from Paleo Eats & Treats

A simple guide to what and when to eat pre-workout | simple pre-workout meal ideas | pre-workout snacks | pre-workout recipes |

Stay Hydrated

 Lastly, remember to drink enough water before your workouts to avoid dehydration. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and loss of coordination, which may increase risk of injury during exercise. Try drinking 16-24 ounces of water an hour before workouts and at least 7-10-ounces every 20-30 minutes of exercise.

[Related Post : High Protein Plant Based Recipes]

Thank you for visiting Simply Well Balanced. We would love to hear from you. Do you have any simple pre-workout meal ideas or snacks to share? Please comment below!

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