This Is The Best Snack To Eat Before A Workout, According To A Nutritionist

The "proper" way to work out comes with so many rules that deciding what to eat beforehand may end up feeling too overwhelming. Fortunately, Mashed got some advice from Kristen Carli, RD, a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness.

Right away, you should focus on proteins and non-simple carbohydrates. "Carbohydrates are fuel for the body, especially for workouts that last more than 90 minutes," she says. "When the person runs out of glycogen (stored carbs in muscles), they can experience 'hitting the wall'". Carli goes on to explain that the simple carbs of something like a Rice Krispies treat only fuel you for a very short time. If you extend your exercise at all, you will experience a crash.

So, according to Carli, the best foods to eat before working out are "peanut butter and fruit, dry cereal with a handful of pistachios, or toast and eggs." Sometimes, though, you are so pressed for time that even those are not a feasible option. "There are healthy pre-workout convenience foods you can choose from if you are busy and didn't prepare anything for your pre-workout snack," Carli adds. "Convenience foods like 'Kind' bars and Larabar are great options as they contain little amounts of added sugars." For best results, you should eat between 30 to 60 minutes before your workout. Whatever you do, however, Carli suggests staying away from fried food, as it can cause "digestive discomfort" and fatigue.

Variables to consider

As with exercise in general, there are many variables to consider when deciding on a pre-workout snack.

Kristen Carli explains that the type of exercise you intend to do should influence the food you consume. Strength training requires high protein, while cardio will succeed better with a higher carbohydrate intake. Livestrong goes into greater detail, describing how protein serves as the basis of cells that build up your muscles and carbs provide you with the direct energy needed for the actual strengthening of the body.

With all this talk about food, one might wonder whether or not fasting before working out is ok. This, Carli says, depends on the person and what they intend to do. If you're mainly lifting weights, she explains, "it is not a good idea to work out on an empty stomach. However, if the person wakes up very early in the morning to exercise and doesn't feel hungry, [they] can skip the pre-workout snack but fuel up post-workout." There is some wriggle room to follow the inclinations of what your body tells you. So, you can dive right in without having to feel too overwhelmed at the notion of figuring out your food choices as well as your fitness routine.