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Deciding what to consume before a workout can seem like a bit of a minefield. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there, which can leave new lifters scratching their head.
In this article, we are going to take a look at what makes a good energy boosting food for intense workouts.
A good pre-workout meal will include either a form of energy (caffeine in black coffee, or glucose) or a source of protein which can help stimulate protein synthesis.
You can also have a high carbohydrate meal, particularly if you are performing endurance exercises.
Ideally, you want to keep dietary fat low, as fat takes a while to digest and can leave you feeling sluggish afterwards.
This article will look at some excellent foods to take before you workout, and also some drinks, as often a liquid pre-workout is as effective (if not more) than food.
One thing that you should do beforehand though, is separate foods into ones that you should eat immediately before a workout and ones that you should eat a few hours beforehand.
This is affected by how quick they are digested and how long it takes to convert to energy.
A banana is a great way to increase energy immediately before a workout, but would you feel anything after 3 hours? A baked potato, on the other hand, is perfect for a meal 2-3 hours before your workout, but you wouldn’t eat one while walking into the weights are would you?
- 1 Energy Boosting Food #1: Whey Protein Shake
- 2 Energy Boosting Food #2: Greek Yoghurt with Whey Protein
- 3 Energy Boosting Food #3: Black Coffee
- 4 Energy Boosting Food #4: Protein Bar
- 5 Energy Boosting Food #5: Cottage Cheese
- 6 Energy Boosting Food #6: Roast Beef Sandwich
- 7 Energy Boosting Food #7: Porridge/Oatmeal
- 8 Energy Boosting Food #8: Bananas
- 9 Energy Boosting Food #9: Scrambled Eggs on Toast
- 10 Energy Boosting Food #10: Chicken Breast, Vegetables, and Sweet Potato
- 11 Energy Boosting Food #11: Nuts
- 12 Energy Boosting Food #12: Smoothie
- 13 Energy Boosting Food #13: Rice
- 14 Energy Boosting Food #14: Casein Protein Shake
- 15 Energy Boosting Food #15: Pasta
- 16 Energy Boosting Food #16: Bacon Sandwich
- 17 Energy Boosting Food #17: Peanut Butter & Jam Sandwich
- 18 Energy Boosting Food #18: Peanut Butter and Celery
- 19 Energy Boosting Food #19: Apple Juice & Creatine
- 20 Our Final Tip to Boost Energy While Working Out
Energy Boosting Food #1: Whey Protein Shake
Food: Whey protein powder, water (or milk)
Benefits: Fast absorbing protein source. Helps to stimulate protein synthesis, provides energy, and can protect muscle mass while exercising.
Calories: 103 calories
Macros: Protein = 21g, Carbs = 1g, Fat = 1.9g
How to consume: Place one scoop of whey protein powder into a protein shaker, add water, and shake vigorously until the powder has fully mixed with water. You can use milk instead, which will lead to a thicker shake, increase protein, but also increase calories. Use low-fat milk.
Energy Boosting Food #2: Greek Yoghurt with Whey Protein
Food: Zero Fat Greek Yoghurt, whey protein powder
Benefits: High in protein, low in fat, and also containing some carbohydrates. This meal is also light in calories and will leave you energised without feeling sluggish. You can add cereal to increase the carbohydrates if you prefer.
Calories: 200 calories (103 from whey protein, 97 calories from Greek yoghurt)
Macros: Protein = 38.5g, Carbs = 7.8g, Fat = 1.9g
How to consume: Mix one scoop of whey protein powder into a 170g serving of zero percent fat Greek yoghurt.
Energy Boosting Food #3: Black Coffee
Food: Black Coffee
Benefits: High caffeine content which can help you to improve performance when in the gym. Caffeine can remove fatigue, improve endurance performance, improve power, and also help with decision making/cognition. Black coffee is also zero calorie which is great for people training on a diet.
How to consume: Pour a strong black coffee into a mug and drink. You can add sugar if you want, but this will increase the calorie count.
Energy Boosting Food #4: Protein Bar
Food: Find a high protein, medium/high carbohydrate bar with minimal fats.
Benefits: Protein bars are easy to transport (put one in your gym bag and take it with you). They are a great source of protein, taste nice, and can also provide a burst of energy – depending on how much carbohydrates are present in the bar.
Calories: 331 calories (80g bar)
Macros: Protein = 20g, Carbs = 40g, Fat = 10g
How to consume: Open wrapper and eat. Some people recommend placing the protein bar in the microwave for a bit to improve the texture.
Energy Boosting Food #5: Cottage Cheese
Food: Low fat cottage cheese
Benefits: Low in fat, high in protein, and as the protein is slow-digesting it means that protein synthesis will be elevated throughout your workout and afterwards. Helping to fuel your session and to kick-start recovery immediately afterwards.
Calories: 128 calories (150g)
Macros: Protein: = 21.5g, Carbs = 5.1g, Fat = 2.3g
How to consume: Cottage cheese can be surprisingly versatile and is often used as a savoury and as a sweet snack. Combine with blueberries and honey for a higher carb snack which tastes nice.
Energy Boosting Food #6: Roast Beef Sandwich
Food: Roast Beef, margarine, two slices bread, low-fat mayonnaise
Benefits: Lots of carbohydrates from the bread, low fat, and high in protein. Though roast beef will contain creatine, it won’t contain enough to make much of a difference. Still a fantastic pre-workout snack though.
Calories: 205 (based on three slices of roast beef and two slices of bread)
Macros: Protein = 24g, Carbs = 20g, Fat = 3.3g
How to consume: Place roast beef slices on lightly buttered bread (butter not included in calories and macros above). Cut in half and eat.
Energy Boosting Food #7: Porridge/Oatmeal
Food: Porridge (also known as oatmeal), semi-skimmed milk, and a handful of blueberries
Benefits: Lots of fibre, slow releasing energy, a surprising amount of protein, and when topped with fruit it also provides vitamins and minerals that can help improve recovery.
Calories: 340 calories
Macros: Protein = 9g, Carbs = 50g, Fat = 10g
How to consume: Cook the oats in milk, when ready top with a handful of blueberries.
Energy Boosting Food #8: Bananas
Food: One large banana
Benefits: Perfect if you’re just about to walk into the gym and you realise that you haven’t eaten for a few hours. Eating a banana is a great way to boost glycogen and raise your blood sugar levels. Bananas also contain potassium which is perfect for high-intensity workouts.
Calories: 121 calories
Macros: Protein = 1.5g, Carbs = 31g, Fat = 0.4g
How to consume: Eat your banana as you walk into the gym.
Energy Boosting Food #9: Scrambled Eggs on Toast
Food: 3 eggs, toast
Benefits: High in protein, a good source of slow releasing carbohydrates, and perfect for breakfast or lunch.
Calories: 540 calories
Macros: Protein = 31g, Carbs = 48g, Fat = 22g
How to consume: You should eat this around 2 hours before your workout.
Energy Boosting Food #10: Chicken Breast, Vegetables, and Sweet Potato
Food: Grilled chicken breast, broccoli, and baked sweet potato
Benefits: A great combination of protein, micronutrients, and complex carbohydrates for a slow releasing energy source.
Calories: 274 calories
Macros: Protein = 31.9g, Carbs = 30g, Fat = 2.5g
How to consume: Best eaten around 2-3 hours before a workout
Energy Boosting Food #11: Nuts
Benefits: While a high-fat meal is not ideal for training, you can still benefit from fat-dense foods such as nuts. They are easy to transport, full of calories, and can combine with high carb and high protein meals.
Calories: 70 calories (10 almonds)
Macros: Protein = 3g, Carbs = 3g, Fat = 6g
How to consume: Take them with other foods around 2-3 hours before a meal, you can also consume them immediately before a workout if you’re hungry.
Energy Boosting Food #12: Smoothie
Food: Spinach, berries, banana, flax seeds, protein powder scoop, water
Benefits: High in nutritious content (vitamins and minerals), high in protein (thanks to the protein powder), and not too high in calories.
Calories: 292 calories (7 calories from one cup spinach, 43 calories from 100g blackberries, 121 calories in one banana, 18 calories in 1tsp flax seeds, 103 calories in one scoop whey protein)
Macros: Protein = 25.5g, Carbs = 44g, Fat = 4.2g
How to consume: You will need a blender, place all ingredients inside and blitz until the food is well combined. Consume immediately, or add some ice cubes and store for later.
Energy Boosting Food #13: Rice
Benefits: One of the best pre-workout foods, not only is rice high in carbohydrates, but it is also versatile. Combining with many good protein sources and vegetables for the perfect pre-workout meal.
Calories: 199 calories (132g serving)
Macros: Protein = 4.2g, Carbs = 45g, Fat = 0.4g
How to consume: Boiled or microwaved, use it as a basis for a pre-workout meal 2-3 hours beforehand.
Energy Boosting Food #14: Casein Protein Shake
Food: Casein protein powder
Benefits: Unlike whey protein, casein protein is a slow releasing protein source. This means that you can take it a couple hours before a workout and it should still be present in your system by the time your workout starts.
Calories: 103 calories
Macros: Protein = 21g, Carbs = 1g, Fat = 1.9g
How to consume: Place one scoop of casein protein powder into a protein shaker, add water, and shake vigorously until the powder has fully mixed with water. You can use milk instead, which will lead to a thicker shake, increase protein, but also increase calories. Use low-fat milk.
Energy Boosting Food #15: Pasta
Food: Regular or wholegrain pasta
Benefits: Just like rice, pasta is a great carbohydrate source which combines well with meat and vegetables. One of the most well-known pre-workout foods used by everyone from amateur lifters to professional sports people.
Calories: 131 calories (100g serving)
Macros: Protein = 5g, Carbs = 25g, Fat = 1.1g
How to consume: Cook in boiling water until ready, serve with a protein source (chicken, minced beef, meatballs), and vegetables (tomatoes, onions, peppers), and a sauce. Eat around 2-3 hours before a workout.
Energy Boosting Food #16: Bacon Sandwich
Food: Three slices bacon (medallions), two slices of bread, tomato ketchup
Benefits: Bacon is often considered a food to avoid due to its high-fat content. But bacon medallions are mostly protein with all the fatty parts removed. Now you’ve got a high protein snack, with enough carbs to fuel your workout.
Calories: 201 calories
Macros: Protein = 20.6g, Carbs = 20g, Fats = 4.2g
How to consume: Grill the bacon medallions, place on bread, eat within 3 hours of your workout.
Energy Boosting Food #17: Peanut Butter & Jam Sandwich
Food: 2 tbsp Peanut Butter, 1 tbsp Jam, two slices of bread
Benefits: This meal is perfect for endurance performers. In fact, it was the preferred snack of Olympic cycling gold medallist Chris Boardman. Very high in carbohydrates, and also perfect for a burst of energy.
Calories: 350 calories
Macros: Protein = 9.9g, Carbs = 30g, Fat = 16.6g
How to consume: Make the sandwich in advance and consume 20-30 minutes prior to beginning your endurance training. If you’re performing a very long endurance workout you can even consume the sandwich during.
Energy Boosting Food #18: Peanut Butter and Celery
Food: 2 tbsp peanut butter, one stick celery
Benefits: High in calories for such a small serving, full of energy, and easy to consume on the go. While celery also has a small effect on testosterone it’s not going to be enough to make a noticeable difference, but it’s a nice little extra.
Calories: 189 calories
Macros: Protein = 8g, Carbs = 6.1g, Fat = 16g
How to consume: Consume 20-30 minutes before a workout.
Energy Boosting Food #19: Apple Juice & Creatine
Food: Large glass of Apple Juice, 3-5g creatine
Benefits: Creatine is the most effective way to increase energy during a workout. Taking it with a high sugar fruit juice will make it even more effective. This is because fruit juice can create a spike in insulin. Which transports creatine to the muscles even quicker.
Calories: 113 calories
Macros: Protein = 0.2g, Carbs = 28g, Fat = 0.3g
How to consume: Take around 20-30 minutes before a training session.
Our Final Tip to Boost Energy While Working Out
Our final tip to ensure you have enough energy to complete your workout having given 100% is to use supplementation.
There are various supplements that will ensure your energy levels remain high during a workout but our suggested alternative would be Blackwolf Workout.
This package of products has been designed for use before, during and after a workout. Allowing you to work out at maximum intensity, which will ensure you see massive strength and muscle gains. Its unique formula will also ensure fewer DOMS are experienced alongside a shorter recovery time between workouts.
BlackWolf Workout has two packages available; one designed for men (Hunter) and another for women (Huntress).
Both of these packages are made using safe and proven ingredients.