I don’t know about you, but there was once a time when I ate maybe a couple too many vegan chocolate chip cookies before going on a run. I was determined to go on a run but was starving beforehand… and vegan cookies lying around anytime is a trap, starving or not.  Needless to say, I definitely indulged too much. Let me tell you, that run was a rough one. I learned then (and probably could have made an educated guess) that chocolate chip cookies are NOT what you want to eat before working out. Since that awful run, I’ve wised up and took the time to figure out what is best to eat before exercising.

First off, if you’re hungry before a workout, DO eat something (just not junk food). Your body needs fuel to handle the physical stress of exercise. However, keep in mind that your body is constantly using and storing energy (calories) from meals. The energy you use to workout is actually most likely coming from something you ate awhile before exercising. This is one of the million reasons why it’s important to maintain a healthy diet all the time. On the other hand, the burst of energy you feel from eating something an hour or half hour before working out due to a spike in blood sugar. This raise helps your performance and prevents hunger pains but the energy of what you ate shortly before exercising will not really be burned during the workout. What will be burned is the stored fuel from previous meals a few or more hours before.

So, what’s to eat a few hours before exercising?

‘Make sure to get a nutritionally sound meal based on carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide the primary source of fuel for the body. It’s important to concentrate on complex carbs. Complex carbs are slow to digest so they will provide sustained energy for later. But, careful though with fat and protein — the more fat and protein your meal contains, the longer you may have to wait before exercising to avoid cramps. Ideally, aim to eat enough calories to equal about half the calories you expect to burn while exercising or a little more if you’re headed for a high intensity workout. When you have a few hours to spare before actually kicking it into high gear, try these ideas out:

1. Hummus with whole grain crackers or on whole grain toast


Image Source: 7 Unique Ways to Make Hummus

The chickpeas in the hummus, while they do have a good amount of protein, also contain carbohydrates. Hummus paired with whole grains crackers or toast makes for the perfect meal to eat a few hours before a longer workout.

2. Oatmeal

Mushroom Steel-Cut-Oat-Risotto

Image Source: Mushroom Steel Cut Oatmeal Risotto

Oatmeal digests well and grants long-lasting energy. Obviously oatmeal is a go-to for breakfast and with recipes like this baked oatmeal with apricot one you can’t lose. But, have you ever tried oatmeal for lunch before your PM workout? Enjoy this mushroom oatmeal risotto recipe!

Alright now, what to eat an hour or half an hour before breaking a sweat?

High-glycemic fruits like pineapples, apricots, and bananas are the key to success. These will hit your bloodstream quickly to get you moving immediately. Not to mention, fruits are packed with nutrients and water to assist in hydration. Water is very very very important before, during, and after exercise so make sure to monitor your fluids. Dried fruit is also a great choice (but lacking the water) since most dried fruits are rich in iron. Iron is a nutrient to consider because it facilitates oxygen transport in the body and promotes optimal respiratory function during exercise. Check out more snack ideas for your next workout:

3. Smoothie


Image Source: Garden Bliss Smoothie

With the versatility of a smoothie, you can swap in different fruits and veggies to satisfy whatever your heart desires for pre-workout fuel needs. Since the fruit is already partially broken down and blended, digestion occurs even faster for more immediate energy. These all make for great choices: 22 Amazing Smoothies to Kick Start Your Day

4. Fruit Parfait


Image Source: Breakfast Parfait with Oats and Blueberry Pudding

The oats paired with the blueberries and sliced banana in this parfait is the perfect combo for fuel.

5. Energy Bar


Image Source: No Bake Superfood Energy Bars

Dates are pure gold when it comes to an energy kick so these bars really are super.

References: Vegan Bodybuilding, Spark People