Just like your gear needs to vary my workout, so too should your fueling strategy. For example, the smoothie that goes down easy before strength-training could cause digestive distress in spin class. And you don’t need quite as many calories for a 30-minute brisk stroll as you would for a high-intensity interval session, says Alissa Rumsey, RD, CSCS, a New York-based dietitian and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. Chomping on the same granola bar before every single workout, no matter you’re doing, won’t get you the best possible results—but carefully choosing which foods you snack on will.
So, what should you eat before heading to the gym? To settle this issue once and for all, we chatted with fitness pros to figure out the best pre-workout picks based on your regimen of choice. Here’s what they said.
Because it’s a more moderate workout, you don’t always need to top off your fuel stores before walking. If you ate a nutritious meal within the past 4 to 5 hours and don’t feel hungry, you might not need to eat at all, says Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, of Avocado a Day Nutrition in Columbia, SC. However, if you walk first thing in the morning, are more than a few hours past lunch, or just start to feel your stomach rumble, about 100 to 200 calories with at least 15 g of quick-digesting carbohydrates, along with a little healthy fat or protein, can stabilize your blood sugar and prime your muscles to stride powerfully.
- A medium pear with ½ oz sharp Cheddar cheese
- ½ cup applesauce plus 2 Tbsp raw cashew pieces*
- ½ cup low-sugar or homemade granola (Hartley makes a dark chocolate, coconut, and almond blend with quinoa, oats, and sea salt)
- 2½ cups of popcorn tossed with ½ Tbsp of olive oil, rosemary, and a dash of truffle oil if desired*
- A light smoothie, like Hartley’s Berry Green Dream: Blend 1 cup blueberries, ½ cup (about four) strawberries, a quarter banana, 3 cups chopped lacinato kale, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 2½ Tbsp chia seeds, 1 cup ice, and water as needed*