Pre-exercise Snacks: Here’s What You Need To Know

What is pre-workout food?

Pre-workout food is essentially any food or snacks that you consume prior to your workout. The type of pre-workout food and the amount eaten will depend on your goals, planned workout and time of day. 

Is pre-workout food necessary?

Pre-workout food is not necessary for everyone. However, if you are someone that tends to get lost in your work day, skip meals or forget to eat throughout the day, eating some food prior to your workout is a good idea. 

If you feel faint, light-headed or dizzy during workouts this could also be a sign that your blood sugar is low. A common misconception we encounter is that you must have diabetes to feel this way – this is simply not true. If you are new to exercise or maybe you’re restarting after an extended break we recommend having some pre-workout food. 

When should I eat before training?

We recommend eating 15 to 90 minutes prior to training. This depends on the type of food you eat, what type of activity you plan to partake in and as well as your stomach tolerance to certain foods. 

The time range for eating prior to training is large. You may need to experiment with eating at different times before you begin to understand what works best for you. 

Pre-exercise foods

By now you’re probably wondering what kind of food should I be eat before training? The answer again as you might guess is – it depends. 

You should eat foods that are high in carbohydrate prior to exercise as this will provide you with the “fuel” required to train at an optimal level. 

Fruits, bread, pasta, potatoes and rice are all good sources of carbohydrates and can be consumed prior to exercise. 

Protein can be consumed prior to exercise, but this should be done in more of a complementary role with carbohydrates. 

Fat takes the longest of the three macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) to break down in your body. Because of this, it is not considered a good source of fuel prior to exercise. Foods that are high in fat such as fried foods, cakes and nuts can easily cause stomach distress prior to exercise and should not be consumed. 

Pre-exercise snacks 
  • Bagel with jam 
  • Smoothies 
  • Granola with yoghurt 
  • Dried cranberries
  • Sports drinks 
  • Fruit 
  • Nutri-grain bar

Pre-exercise food for weight loss 

Eating pre-exercise foods while simultaneously trying to lose weight is a delicate balancing act. You don’t want to consume too many additional calories through your diet, yet at the same time you want to feel at your best so that you can work as hard as possible for each session. 

In this case, your best option is to consume fruits prior to exercise. A single banana, cup of orange juice or a cup of blueberries should provide you with enough energy to last for your workout. These items typically range in 80 to 130 calories. 

Pre-workout food or drink

A longer time frame prior to your workout should give you an opportunity to eat solid foods without causing an upset stomach. However, if you are short on time and want to train within 15 to 30 minutes a good option is sports drinks. Lucozade and Powerade are two examples that can work well here.  

Energy drinks

Energy drinks like Bang, Monster and Reign seem to have exploded in popularity recently. The main or active ingredient in these drinks is caffeine, taurine or a combination of both. These drinks provide a large dose of caffeine (160 to 300mg) and provide some benefit if taken prior to training. 

These drinks should be consumed about 45 minutes prior to exercise, but should not be relied upon on a continual basis as you can quickly build a reliance on caffeine- not to mention that it could quickly become an expensive habit. 


It might be a case of trial and error for some time to see what timeline and snacks work best for you as pre-workout foods. If you seem to lose energy, focus or the enthusiasm to train during the latter part of your workouts you could benefit with adding a pre-workout snack to your routine.