7 Best Pre-Exercise Food Varieties

Confused about what to eat before going to the gym? Experts provide Lisa Antao with guidance regarding appropriate sources.

People often take gym workouts seriously. Unfortunately, though, in many instances they arrive to their gym without first eating anything – either due to succumbing to the belief that eating before exercise should not be done or simply because they have no idea what would make a good snack choice. That doesn’t mean chowing down before every single gym workout; simply be sure that eating right at the right time is key!


Fitness expert Namrata Purohit explains: “Practicing on an empty stomach isn’t ideal; therefore eating at the appropriate time is crucial. In fact, even an unfilled stomach can interfere with exercise performance.” As carbohydrates provide energy to fuel our bodies’ needs during exercise sessions and it would be wise to include something rich in carbs that provides quickly absorbable sugars to curb cravings during physical exertion and give energy boost.

Here is a selection of foods considered appropriate to eat before exercising:


Oats Cereal can be an excellent pre-workout breakfast when running on an empty stomach; its fast digestion provides you with energy for workouts while its nutritious properties also serve to promote overall body wellness. When combined with organic products it becomes even more rewarding!

Brown Rice With Chicken

While most people exercise before heading off to school or work in the mornings, some find time constraints make exercising in the evening more feasible. For them, eating brown rice with chicken might be the perfect pre-exercise meal: nutritionist Dr Zainab Sayed notes “Brown rice provides slow digestible carbs that provide energy as you workout while chicken offers lean proteins for strength training. Together they form an ideal combo that provides about 200 to 300 Calories that could fuel an effective workout session – roughly equivalent to one medium bowl (30gm uncooked earthy colored rice + two pieces of chicken)

Protein Shakes

Protein Shakes These beverages are increasingly popular among gym-goers. Namrata notes, “Protein is essential for overall muscle, bone and skin development; therefore if you don’t get enough from other sources or after exercising it may be beneficial to supplement with one every few hours. Competitors or those doing regular physical activities might benefit from having one every few hours but should consult their healthcare provider regarding an optimal daily amount.” She warns against overconsuming protein shakes which could have adverse reactions such as kidney damage; to find out the proper daily amount to consume it is best.



Bananas contain sugar and starch that provide energy to the body, and are an abundant source of carbs. According to superstar coach Sameer Purohit, one medium-sized banana consumed 45 to an hour prior to exercise can usually keep you going throughout your exercise schedule like adding fuel. Each individual must recognize his/her unique body needs in this regard.

Peanut Butter Sandwich/Bagel With Honey

True enough. But here’s the kicker: for maximum nutrition and energy benefits, choose multigrain bread instead of white for your sandwich and a whole wheat bagel all around. Honey provides natural sources of glucose as energy; Dr Zainab further clarified this matter: “If you exercise early in the day then consume an entire wheat peanut butter sandwich since you have been fasting for eight to nine hours”.

Energy/Granola Bars

Fueling up with pre-exercise bars will increase your performance during an exercise session, according to Sameer. “Carbs provide energy to our bodies – however, ensure your energy/granola bar contains minimal fats, proteins and fiber,” advises Sameer.



(curds or dahi) contains calcium and proteins as well as small amounts of regular sugar in small quantities. Since yogurt is gentle on your digestive tract and stomach related system, it makes an ideal pre-exercise snack; adding whole grain cereal, fruits or honey will give an immediate energy boost!