Pre-Workout Nutrition & Healthy Snacks

My clients often are already fairly active in the gym, and have begun to reclaim their love for movement. By the time we start working together, they've realized that being healthy, as well as looking and feeling the way they want to, takes more than just an hour of sweat -- it's really tied to your nutrition.

Meals tend to be easy, there are so many great recipes to experiment with, and so many simple tricks we incorporate to balance plates and eat more veggies, fruits, healthy fats, and good protein sources. But when it comes to eating snacks or knowing if/what to eat before working out, and finding things to replace the typical sugary, carby go-tos that so often clutter our cabinets, the real challenge is illuminated.

So this week, I was inspired by my clients' questions around healthy snacks, and wanted to share some of my favorite snacks that can also double as a pre-workout energy booster!

First, let's quickly discuss why eating before working out can be important.

  • I'll caveat this by saying that sometimes fasted cardio or fasted HIIT is good for helping get to a goal, but you should be nourishing your body with protein & carbs within 30 minutes of moving if you're training fasted.
  • If you're planning to workout for an hour or more, having some fuel will ultimately help you have more energy to power through your sweat-sesh, and will prevent your body from eating away at the muscle you're working so hard to build because it needs energy!

Here's some science behind food & how it impacts your body during a workout:

  • Carbs help your body use up glycogen that is stored in your cells, which can fuel both short workouts and high-intensity exercises
  • Fats digest more slowly, and can provide fuel for longer gym sessions
  • Proteins help to prevent muscle damage and promote muscle recovery
  • Water, aka being hydrated, will help you perform your best and sustain your performance

So yes, eating before working out is important!! SO... what can I eat if I'm trying to eat clean, and how can I use this same idea to apply to healthy snacks?

  • Balance your meals with a good ratio of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat
  • Or if you're visual, try a fist full of carbs, palm size of protein, and a thumb size of fats
  • Aim for whole foods so you can increase volume! For example, an energy bar is just that, a single bar... however for the same amount of protein, carbs, and fats, you could consume an apple, 4-5 walnuts, and a 1/2-3/4 scoop of protein OR a small piece of grilled chicken in a collard green wrap with avocado and grilled veggies. So much more filling, and nutritious!
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So I'll close this out by sharing one of my favorite preworkout snacks - sliced apple with shredded coconut, goji berries, almonds, and a sprinkle of chia seeds. You can sweeten this up a bit more with some low-sugar homemade jam or local raw honey, or swap the almonds for almond butter! What I love the most about this is how full of flavor and complexity this dish is, how many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants this packs, and it takes awhile to eat which helps me feel satiated and re-charged!

Give it a try, add your own healthy twist, and tag me in your creations or post a picture to the comments!!