6 Power Packed Pre-Workout Snacks

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If you workout hard, you need to refuel properly as well — in fact, it’s vitally important!

Perhaps you’ve been rushing into your workout, without planning proper pre-workout foods.

If that’s the case, it’s unlikely that you’ll see the maximum results from your efforts, and you may not recover as quickly as you should.

If you really want to get the best from all your hard work, a healthy pre-workout snack is an important, yet simple, solution.

Here are some simple guidelines for choosing a healthy pre-workout food:

  • Contain around 200-300 calories
  • Be low in fat and fibre
  • Be high in complex carbohydrates (25 grams of carbohydrates)
  • Contain moderate protein (at least 15 grams of protein)
  • Be low in simple sugars

For more tips on pre-workout eating check out this article.

6 balanced pre-workout snack ideas:

1. Torilla wrap
A tortilla wrap filled with tuna will give you a healthy dose of protein, and if you choose a wholegrain wrap, your snack with be more slowly digested, so you won’t get those unhealthy highs and lows in blood sugar levels.

This is a great snack idea if you feel peckish, and your workout is about an hour away — not too light, not too heavy!

Watch out for condiments like mayo, and add in a few vegetables to balance out your meal — then you’ll be good to go.

2. Nut butter
If you’re craving something substantial pre-workout, a natural nut butter and banana sandwich is a great choice.

But, rather than choosing bread, add natural nut butter (such as almond) to two brown rice cakes, and top with banana slices.

3. Nuts and seeds
Trail mix is a great source of important nutrients, to help build strong muscles, and boost energy levels.

However, do be aware of how much you’re eating — although nuts and seeds contain healthy fats, you don’t want to overdo it with calories.

A portion of trail mix, is roughly a 1/4 of a cup, which is pretty small, but a very substantial pre-workout snack nonetheless.

4. Oatmeal
Oats are full of fibre, which means they release their energy slowly into the blood stream. This is perfect for a pre-workout food, as it helps to keep your energy levels constant during your workout.

Go for 1 cup of cooked oatmeal, and top with some fresh berries to round things out nicely.

5. Lentils
Perhaps you wouldn’t normally think of lentils as a snack food, but they’re a really great option, especially if you’re fed up with your regular pre-workout snacks.

Lentils are a very good source of carbohydrate, protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and they’re low in fat and calories.

I suggest cooking a big batch of lentils, then freezing what you don’t need for later, and keeping the rest covered in your fridge for a couple of days snacks.

1 cup of lentils, with a dollop of fresh natural yoghurt works very well.

6. Yoghurt
Yoghurt is one of my favourite foods, and it’s such an easy, healthy snack option when you’re in a rush.

Give it a little protein kick by stirring in a small amount of protein powder, before adding some freshly sliced strawberries, or whatever fruit you have to hand.

If you feel a little more peckish, add some low-fat granola on top.

What are your favourite pre-workout foods?

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About Melanie
Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate Freeman July 19, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Hi Melanie,
I am loving your blog! Your snack ideas are really good and when I was reading your profile I felt like I was reading about myself! I’m currently studying my masters in nutrition, in Australia, and also have 2 young children 2 and 4 months. It’s great to find other people out there who believe the same things about food as I do! Anyway – keep it up. Really like it!


Melanie July 27, 2010 at 10:38 am

Hi Kate,
Wow, you are busy at the minute, good for you. I hope your little ones are well, and you’re enjoying that lovely baby stage. My little girl is 9 months now, and trying to crawl. Are you originally from Australia?


Kate Freeman July 28, 2010 at 6:24 am

Yeah, born and bred!
I remember the crawling stage with my 2 year old – she did it at 8 months, life was never the same! Once they work it out – they’re off! Have fun!


Jane @Sweet Basil Kitchen July 21, 2010 at 2:44 am

I love your word “peckish”…I am smiling as I read it! Love your ideas for healthy snacks! Thanks!


Melanie July 27, 2010 at 10:44 am

I suppose that’s chiefly a British word, isn’t it?? lol


brad July 24, 2010 at 3:20 pm

It is really recommended to not eat or drink anything prior to working out. I find it hard to workout on an empty stomach. I can feel weak and light headed. The reason why you shouldn’t be eating prior to working out is due your digestive system pumping blood to your stomach and retracting nutrients. It also can give you indigestion, which is miserable when doing abdominal exercises. The most important meal is immediately after a workout. Please write an article on that. Thank you and good luck.

Highly recommended weight loss programs:

The Gold Coast Diet


Melanie July 27, 2010 at 11:34 am

Hi Brad,
I believe it’s a personal decision. For most people a very light snack pre-workout, is a good idea. If you’re due to have a larger meal, try to eat 2 to 4 hours before a workout, due to digestion.


Joshua Strom July 29, 2010 at 5:16 pm


I just recently found out that my wife is allergic to all wheat and glutten products. I have come to realize after checking labels at the store that everything has wheat or a form of it in the product. This makes shopping extremly frustrating and health food stores charge an arm and a leg. Is there a site or great diet tips that you recommend for this challenging diet.


Cathy in NZ July 31, 2010 at 9:19 am

Hi Melanie
Sorry I have been AWOL from your articles…finally did get through last Semester and scraped through my papers.

Spent most of the break resting and trying to get back to some resembalance of a person who is not burn-out :-) Decided to drop down to 2 paper for the next 2 full semesters because I have only FOUR left to do to get my BA.

I am still working through getting back to some level of exercise fitness but fortunately with my previous life of learning to live with portion control based on what I’m achieving daily, my weight has remained in a level that hasn’t meant weight gain.

OK not where I would like to be but not far from that level…hope to start doing more than my walking (no car) stuff sooooooooon. If I find I can’t it only another 3mths to Summer Recess when I can step out again!
.-= Cathy in NZ´s last blog ..The Unknown Friday =-.


Melanie August 12, 2010 at 8:59 am

Hi Cathy,
No need to apologise!! I’m so glad you got through your exams, I know how tough it is. How are your getting on with your exercise and fitness these days?


Cathy in NZ August 17, 2010 at 5:25 am

As you can see, I’m not very good at even replying – sorry. I quickly read your reply and then ‘filed’ for later!

I am basically in ‘big trouble’ with fitness/exercise…this last w/end i realised that all the problems I had last Semester with study-burnout has trailled down to problems personally. I was at something and I got down on my hands and knees to do something – and I had a great of difficulty getting topside again.

I realised at that very point that my ‘fitness’ had gone! So now, I’m in the process of looking at what i can do to get it back. I do walk a lot because I don’t have a car – but it’s not really a walking fitness as I don’t ‘hit the pavement, so to speak’

I’m concerned too that if I start pounding the pavements – I will slide back into burnout and I’ve got to get through these papers as I’m so close to actually getting this degree…so asap I am going to start a low-style programme to get back that fitness. I need to work out a number of time-management issues; winter issues but at least my ‘brain’ is in attention/intention mode.

I have managed to keep off weight but i’m not sure if I’m really eating all that well, correctly because certain other things are happening.

So now to check out various articles of yours – including some previously read etc :-)
.-= Cathy in NZ´s last blog ..the changing face of accessing mass-culture =-.


Melanie August 17, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Aw Cathy, it’s always lovely to hear from you, but please don’t apologise for not replying… I know that life happens!! :-)

I hope you find some inspiration here on the blog, don’t forget if you can’t find what you’re looking for, just let me know, and I’ll write up an article to help you out.


lindard January 13, 2011 at 3:04 am

nice blog and great food list. pre-workout snacks is really important. your workout regime would be in vain if you don’t plan what you eat before workout. you could feel tired, dizzy or even faint due to a drop in blood sugar..thanks for the post again. i enjoyed reading it


Melanie January 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Hi Linda,
Thanks for sharing your link, too.


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