Sometimes, just making it to the gym is a major accomplishment. So it makes sense that you might not necessarily have the time to grab a pre-exercise snack before you hit the stationary bike or pick up a set of weights. To make matters easier, we asked nine top trainers to share their go-to pre-workout noshes. Enjoy!
Hard-Boiled Egg Whites + Apple
“Pre-workout, I make sure to get some sugar to energize me, but I want it to come from a natural source,” says Kyra Williams, online personal trainer and nutrition expert and USA Weightlifting and USA Power Lifting Coach. Williams chooses rice cakes, sweet potato, or fruit, and she also likes to eat something full of protein. “Protein is the building block for building muscle and will keep me full longer—but I also want it to be easy on my stomach not too filling or difficult to digest.” One of her favorite pairs is hard-boiled egg whites with an apple.
Bagel + Peanut Butter
“I like to keep my pre-workout snack simple,” says Dempsey Marks, fitness expert and creator of the PreGame Fit fitness and lifestyle program. “I’m not actually very hungry when I wake up, and I tend to cramp up if I eat a really big meal before I exercise.” She likes eating half a bagel with all-natural PB. “Bagels and peanut butter are satisfying and have a good mix of carbs and protein.”
Oatmeal + Berries
Peter Cirolia, former New York City ballet dancer and current personal trainer and health consultant for Ballet Muscle Fitness Method, often works 12-hour long days with clients. He relies on the following snack for long-lasting energy and power: half a cup of oatmeal with two percent milk, one tablespoon of almond butter, and 15 blueberries, four strawberries, and a splash of pure vanilla extract.
Banana + Yogurt
“My go-to snack before exercising is a banana and plain yogurt,” says Grace Albin, fitness trainer and Pilates instructor. “The potassium in bananas prevents my muscles from cramping, especially if I’m going for a long run.” Albin adds that the protein in yogurt keeps her from getting hungry mid-workout—plus, it’s hydrating and easy to digest.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
Relive childhood days with this filling pre-workout snack, the choice of Candy Morales, personal trainer at The Spa at Trump in Chicago. “The peanut butter and the bread combined provide vitamin B, zinc, iron, protein, and unsaturated fats. It’s also packed with fiber.” Morales also says plenty of NBA players reach for PB&J before working out, too. “Their locker rooms are filled with them,” she says.
Granola + Black Coffee
Before a weight training session or HIIT workout, Tyson Brown, health and strength coach in Australia, will drink a mug of black coffee and eat a few handfuls of granola. The caffeine helps mobilize fat, while granola’s combo of oats and dried fruit “can be easily broken down by the body and used for quick energy,” he explains.
“Potatoes are a bit controversial, but they are beneficial to give your blood some glucose,” says Janis Isaman, owner of My Body Couture, which offers customized fitness and nutrition coaching. “They are the best thing for me personally, because they give me a boost but are easy to digest. I don’t have a blood sugar crash.” Prepare a baked potato and pair it with Isaman’s favorite toppings: spinach, vinaigrette and tomato chutney.
Whey Protein + Water
“About an hour before training, I take whey protein dissolved in water,” says Robert Herbst, personal trainer, coach, and world champion power lifter. “This gives me the protein and carbs necessary to fuel my workouts.” Herbst says this is a good all-natural alternative to caffeine and other stimulants.
Bonus Option: Try Fasting
Some fitness trainers, like Julia Buckley, author of The Fat Burn Revolution, prefer working out fasted. “I’ll do my workout in the morning and not eat until lunchtime,” she says. “I feel really good on it and don’t have issues with low energy or weakness.” That being said, when she needs a pre-exercise energy boost, Buckley will munch on a banana. “I get stomach cramps if I’m not careful about what I eat before workouts—especially on cardio days,” she says, “but bananas are so easily digestible I can chomp on one before exercising without any problems.”