10 Best Foods to Eat Before a Tough Workout

Your performance in the gym really depends on what you eat before working out.

Eating quality foods before hitting the gym is important that enhance your strength, endurance and fuel your body during the workout.

Consuming incorrect foods before a workout doesn’t help you in the workout and even decreases your athletic performance.

In this article, I will share with you the ten best foods to eat before a workout. It also covers what foods you should avoid and the right time to consume pre-workout. So, let’s dive in!

Nutrients You Need Before a Workout

The main goal of a pre-workout meal is to provide the body enough energy to perform a tough workout and reduce muscle protein breakdown during the workout.

How can you achieve this?

Simple, by giving your body a healthy amount of carbs and protein. Carbs will work as your energy source, while protein helps to reduce muscle protein breakdown.

Okay, let’s move into the foods that can do the job best and see their best combination to make them a complete pre-workout meal.

Top 10 Best Foods to Eat Before a Workout

15 Best Foods to Eat Before a Workout

1. Eggs

Eggs are a rich source of high-quality protein and some healthy fats. Taking one whole egg and 4-5 egg whites can be a perfect combination for before a workout meal. In addition, you can combine eggs with fruit like bananas or dates to fulfill your carbs intake.

Its high-quality protein helps maintain muscle mass and reduce muscle protein breakdown during workouts, while carbs help push yourself to the next level.

2. Oatmeal

When I’m not able to decide what to eat, oatmeal is my number one go-to option. It also helps to kill your pre-workout hunger and provide energy throughout the day.

Oatmeal contains many complex carbs while combining with strawberries and peanut butter, making it a perfect balance of nutrients that our body needs before a workout.

3. Chickpeas

Chickpeas is very easy and convenient on the go option. Chickpeas are loaded with fiber and healthy fats along with several vitamins and minerals — a perfect nutritional profile for a pre-workout meal.

Although chickpeas alone can be a complete snack, you can add some fruit like watermelon to maximize your muscle pump during a workout.

4. Fruits

Fruits are one of the best and easy food options that can fit your pre and post-workout. In addition, some fruits are special fits in the pre-workout to enhance your performance, such as:

  • Bananas
  • Dates
  • Mangos
  • Watermelon

These foods themselves can do your pre-workout job, but for protein, you can look for sources like egg whites, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, protein powder, etc.

5. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is my favorite pre-workout meal, and adding some fresh fruits into it can enhance its taste. However, some people may find yogurt uncomfortable before a workout.

Greek yogurt is rich in protein, while fruits like berries or bananas can fill the carbs intake — a perfect nutrient balance before an intense workout.

6. Chicken

Chicken is an impressive pre-workout meal option that can provide a massive training session. In addition, chicken is one of the best high protein sources you can consume with rice and veggies.

Remember, chicken is a slow-digesting food means you have to consume it a minimum of 1-2 hours before you start your workout.

7. Sweet Potato

Looking for a feeling option? Sweet potatoes are an excellent option for pre-workout eats. It’s the main source of complex carbohydrates and fiber, along with some fats.

Sweet potato is a perfect food to eat one hour before workout with your salad or veggies, or you can add 4-5 egg whites to increase your protein intake.

8. Peanut Butter

When you’re following a healthy lifestyle, peanut butter is must-have food on your grocery list. Peanut butter packed with fivers and healthy fats.

And it can combine with many other carbs and protein sources like apple, oats, bread, rice cake, high-protein smoothies, protein shake, etc.

9. Brown Rice

Feeling hungry? Brown rice is one of the best sources of complex carbohydrates. Eating it with eggs, chicken, beans, or vegetables can be perfect to kill your pre-workout hunger.

Brown rice a heavy meal option. That’s why it would be best to consume this meal 1-2 hours before your workout so that you never feel bloated during the workout.

10. Whole Grain Bread

Looking for a quick but feeling pre-workout option? Whole grain bread is a great option. Take your desired number of bread, spread peanut butter and sliced banana on it, enjoy.

Whole grain bread is a main source of carbs, so combine it with other protein sources like eggs or protein powder can provide a perfect combination of nutrients you need before a workout.

What Should You Not Eat Before a Workout?

Our body doesn’t need all types of food in the pre-workout meal. So, you have to be specific when choosing foods.

Let’s check out the foods you should not eat before a workout.

  • High-fiber foods
  • Soft drinks
  • Spicy foods
  • Dairy
  • Sugar
  • Junk foods
  • Avocado
  • Energy drinks

Avoid the foods mentioned above before a workout. Instead, add our recommended foods to get a power-packed training session.

What is the Best Time to Eat Before A Workout?

The best time to eat is about 30-45 minutes before you start working out. The ideal pre-workout meal should be small, combining with a good amount of carbs and protein.

Although the time of a pre-workout meal depends on what food you choose and the quantity you eat.

For example, You should eat a meal like rice with chicken a minimum of 60-120 minutes before your workout. On the other hand, a meal with bananas and eggs can be eaten 30 minutes before training.

Is it Ok to Workout on an Empty Stomach?

Shortly, it depends. Working out in the morning before eating breakfast means in a fasted state, are often believed that it helps in weight loss.

However, working out after eating a balance meal can greatly improve your stamina and athletic performance. 

Although some studies prefer working out on an empty stomach, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ideal. Because when we exercise on an empty stomach, our body may lose vital energy sources and may not perform the intensive workout for a long period.

When we exercise on an empty stomach, our body uses the stored fat as an energy source which may cause weight loss.

But remember, there is another possibility that our body may get normal to use the stored fat for energy and start to store more fat than before.

Generally, I prefer to exercise after eating a meal combined with carbs and protein. Because when we eat before a workout, our body gets the energy and strength to perform the exercises more effectively and increase stamina for a long-lasting workout.


Whether you’re going to do resistance training or cardio, it’s crucial to choose the right foods that fuel your body throughout the workout and enhance your performance.

Eat the foods that we listed on the top ten foods to eat before a workout, go to the gym with a fully energetic feeling and hit the workouts like a beast.

Want more pre-workout options? Check out the article on 50 Healthy Pre-Workout Snack Ideas.

If you have any questions regarding the pre-workout meal, feel free to ask in the comment section below. We’ll glad to help you!

Scroll to Top