Unless you are working out first thing in the morning, you need to eat before working out. Before asking your body to expend energy, you need to give it the energy to get started. In this article, the best natural pre workout foods to eat before working out have been put together. Not only will you learn what to eat, but you will learn why that food is a good choice. Once you understand the why, you will be able to mix, match, and modify your selections to suit your tastes.

​Picking the right foods for working out will help you meet your fitness goals over the long-term. Exhausting your body’s energy stores stresses your body, leaving you more prone to injury or sickness. Therefore, working out is only healthy when paired with the consumption of the right foods.

Top 10 Best Natural Pre Workout Ideas : Comparison Table

Top 10 Best Natural Pre Workout Food Ideas

Bananas

Features

Natural Pre Workout with Bananas

​Key Features of this product include the amount of potassium it contains. Potassium plays a major role in moving nutrients in and out of the cell. It also is a vital component for communication between nerves and muscle cells. Because potassium is stored for a limited amount of time in the body, bananas should be consumed 30 minutes to an hour before working out.

​Another key feature of bananas is the simple carbohydrates they provide. Simple carbohydrates are a quick source of energy. This makes a banana a good way to raise your blood sugar level and protect your glycogen stores. Like the potassium, the way these simple carbohydrates metabolism also makes the banana best eaten 30 minutes to an hour before working out.

Pros

+ ​Good source of potassium

+ ​Provides simple carbohydrates

Cons

​Potassium does not remain in the body long

​Does not contain any protein.

When To Eat

Approximately 30 minutes to an hour before working out.

Quality
Price
Our Rating

4.5

$

4.5

Plain Greek Yogurt With Berries and Granola

Features

natural pre workout - Plain Greek Yogurt With Berries and Granola for Natural Pre Workout

​Key Features of this product include a source of quickly available energy and a reserve of protein to combat muscle breakdown. If you are trying to lose weight, it may seem counterintuitive to consume a high sugar, high-calorie food such as dried fruit when working out. However, when consumed in small quantities pre workout, it provides the energy necessary to get going before the body accesses the energy it has stored as glycogen. For granola, try to look for those that contain nuts, seeds, and whole grains such as quinoa or oats.

Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt, 4 Ounce -- 12 per case.
  • Important - Refrigerated items are perishable and tend to have short shelf lives - some of these can be as little as two weeks from the date of receipt - if you are ordering a large quantity, or are otherwise concerned about expiration dates, consider a frozen product.
  • Ships refrigerated, CANNOT be cancelled after being processed.
Pros

+ ​​Natural sweetness

+ ​Lots of variability in flavor available

+ ​​​Contains simple and complex carbohydrates for quick and lasting energy

+ ​​Includes protein

Cons

​​Careful control of the dried fruit portion must be exercised

​​You must be careful what type of granola is used because some are high in simple carbohydrates and fat

When To Eat

​This meal should be consumed an hour to and hour and a half before working out.

Quality
Price
Our Rating

4.5

$

4.5

Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables

Features

​natural pre workout - Chicken, Rice, And Vegetables for Natural Pre Workout

​Key Features of this product include an excellent source of lean protein as well as complex carbohydrates. Chicken is a good lean protein source, particularly the white meat. It is heart healthier than red meat. Rice and vegetables are a good source of complex carbohydrates. Overall, this meal is a classic, providing protein for muscle rebuilding and carbohydrates appropriate for a long workout.

Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli
  • Twelve 7.25 oz. microwavable bowls of Chef Boyardee Rice with Chicken & Vegetables
  • Hearty snack with rice, chicken, and vegetables
  • Chef Boyardee Microwavable Bowls are ready in just 45 seconds
  • No artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors
  • 5 g protein and 0 g trans fat per serving
Pros

+ ​​Good source of protein

+ ​​Low fat

Cons

​Needs to be prepared well in advance

​​The glycemic index can be affected by rice choice; brown rice is preferable

When To Eat

​This meal should be consumed 2 to 3 hours before working out.

Quality
Price
Our Rating

4​

$

4​

Whole-Fruit Smoothie

(Discontinued by Manufacturer)joyböl Smoothie Bowls, Chocolate Hazelnut, Easy Breakfast, Non-GMO, 4 Count
  • At least 10 grams of protein per serving; A quick, hassle free breakfast at the office, home, gym and on the go
  • A creamy, crunchy blend of Non GMO Project Verified fruit, nuts, nutritious seeds and whole grains; No artificial flavors; Colors from natural sources
  • Delicious superfoods like whole grain oats, dried fruits, and nutritious nuts and seeds; Enjoy on its own or with your favorite smoothie add ins
  • Simply add cold water or your favorite dairy or nut milk, stir with the included spoon and enjoy; No blender needed; No refrigeration required
  • Includes 4, 2.1 ounce single serve breakfast smoothie bowls; Try 4 unique, delicious flavors with this variety pack
Features

​Image

Key Features of this product include a great taste that provides a quick source of energy in the form of simple sugars the fruit contains. Fruit smoothies can also contain a lot of valuable nutrients. Including ingredients such as Greek yogurt or peanut butter increases their nutritional value by providing a source of protein. Adding banana can give a smoothie a thicker texture while providing potassium as discussed before.

However, it is important to note fruit smoothies are rather high in calories. Therefore, they should be consumed as a meal replacement, not as a drink to go along with a meal.

Pros

+ ​​Source of immediately available energy

+ ​​Taste great

+ ​​​Many natural ingredient combinations available

Cons

​​Very high in calories

When To Eat

​This meal should be consumed about 30 minutes to an hour before working out.

Quality
Price
Our Rating

4​

$

4.5

High-Protein Oatmeal and Blueberries

Powerful Overnight Oats Oatmeal Cup, High Protein, Whole Grain, Kosher, Natural Ingredients, 20g Protein, Blueberry and Vanilla, 6 Pack
  • ✔️DELICIOUS: Our Powerful Overnight Oats gets done while you sleep with the blueberry & vanilla oats as a perfect combination between a healthy breakfast and a satisfying, refreshing snack
  • ✔️20G OF HEALTHY PROTEIN: Wake-up to a nutritional breakfast option that provides 20g of healthy protein, 4g of fiber and the sweet taste of blueberries and vanilla
  • ✔️ACTIVE LIFESTYLE: These kosher overnight oats are perfect for active lifestyles that make for a great tasting breakfast providing nutrition to a well-balanced diet throughout your day
  • ✔️NATURAL NUTRITION: Powerful Overnight Oats prides itself in its natural ingredients for day-to-day good source of fiber and protein. Made with 100% whole grain oats, ancient grains, natural flavors and whey protein, make Powerful Overnight Oats the best tasting oatmeal on the market
  • ✔️ENJOY IN THE MORNING: Pour you favorite type of milk up to the fill line, mix well and place in the refrigerator. Stir and indulge in the morning, perfect for your morning commute
Features

Key Features of this product include complex carbohydrates for a natural pre workout food suitable for exercise that requires endurance. The complex carbohydrates come from the oatmeal and provide a slow release of energy. Along with flavor, the blueberries bring with them some simple carbohydrates to kick-start a long workout. The protein from added protein sources such as protein powder helps prevent muscle breakdown.

Pros

+ ​Filling

+ ​​Source of long-lasting energy

Cons

​​Must be careful to avoid pre-flavored oatmeal with a lot of added simple carbohydrates

​​Protein needs to be added

When To Eat

​This meal should be consumed about 2 hours before working out.

Quality
Price
Our Rating

4​

$

4.5

Wholegrain Bread, Sweet Potato, or Brown Rice

natural pre workout - Brown Rice for Natural Pre Workout

Key Features of these products include a long-lasting energy and options for pairing with a source of protein.

All three of these natural pre workout food options are great sources of complex carbohydrates. Depending on your preference, they can be combined with a variety of protein sources. 

For example, brown rice can pair with a piece of fish for added protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which is part of a heart-healthy diet.

Seeds Of Change Organic Quinoa & Brown Rice with Garlic ( 12x8.5 OZ)
  • Pack of twelve, 8.5-ounces per bag (total of 102 ounces)
  • With garlic flavor
  • USDA organic
Pros

+ ​​Many pairing options

+ ​​Great energy source of endurance

Cons

​​Stand-alone, these options are not high in protein

​​Must be careful of portion control when topping with sources of fat such as butter.

When To Eat

​This meal should be consumed about 2 to 3 hours before working out.

Quality
Price
Our Rating

4.5

$

4.5

Apple With Almond Butter And Raisins

Legendary Foods Almond & Cashew Butter | Keto Diet Friendly, Low Carb, No Sugar Added, Vegan | Apple Pie, 16oz Jar
  • SATISFY KETO CRAVINGS | Non-GMO cashews and almonds are packed with dense nutrients, healthy fats and protein … the perfect Keto snack! Especially when used as a base for your Keto Fat Bombs
  • LOW IN CARBS | With only 10 grams of total carbohydrates per serving, our nut butters are the ultimate low-carb snack
  • NO SUGAR ADDED | We create just the right amount of sweetness using natural flavors and ingredients
  • SINFULLY DELICIOUS FLAVORS | A decadent blend of creamy almond and cashew butter, pieces of real apple, swirled with just the right touch of cinnamon
  • WE LOVE VEGANS | Knowing that mindful eating is at the top of your list, your nutrition from plant-based products is at the top of ours. Almonds and cashews are great sources of vegan friendly protein - now you know where to get your protein
Features

Key Features of this product include a natural source of simple carbohydrates as well as enough fiber to stave off hunger. This combination is an ideal natural pre workout food for satisfying the mid-afternoon munchies in a helpful way before running to the gym. The apples and raisins are good sources of simple carbohydrates. The little bit of fiber they add can help the stomach feel full without being weighted down. Almond butter provides protein to restore muscle.

Pros

+ ​​Great for productively addressing snack cravings

+ ​​Provides a quick source of energy to get you started

+ ​​Ideal if you aren’t hungry, but know you will be mid-workout

Cons

​​May not provide enough energy for a workout that requires endurance

​​Need to make sure you do not consume too much-dried fruit

When To Eat

​This meal should be consumed about 30 minutes before working out.

Quality
Price
Our Rating

4​

$

4.5

Omelet

Features

natural pre workout - Omelet for Natural Pre Workout

Key Features of this product include a source of good protein and the option to include more ingredients to increase the nutrients consumed. The eggs and egg whites that make up an omelet are natural pre workout source of protein. Their consumption can help you avoid muscle breakdown and promote muscle growth. The inclusion of nutrient-rich foods such as spinach in your omelet further increases the nutritional value.

Holstein Housewares HH-0937012SS Omelet Maker, Black
  • With the Omelet Maker, using your fry pan is a thing of the past
  • Easily make delicious and fluffy omelets without flipping
  • Cooking and cleaning is easy with non-stick coated cooking surfaces
  • Know when the maker is on, preheated, and ready to cook with the handy indicator light
  • Innovative design allows you to make different omelet recipes at the same time

Pros

+ ​​Protein-rich food

+ ​​Many options for add-ins further increase the nutritional value

Cons

​​Eggs can make some individuals gassy

When To Eat

​This meal should be consumed about 2 to 3 hours before working out.

Quality
Price
Our Rating

4​

$

4.5

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

SMUCKERS UNCRUSTABLES FROZEN SANDWICHES PEANUT BUTTER & GRAPE JELLY 4 CT PACK OF 3
  • WE SUGGEST YOU SELECT SECOND DAY OR EXPEDITED SHIPPING FOR THIS ITEM
  • SOFT BREAD SANDWICHES
  • THAW & EAT
  • NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
  • NON GMO, 6g PROTEIN
Features

Key Features of this product include portability and a good source of protein. It might be hard to believe this lunchbox staple can be made into a notable natural pre workout food, but it is true.

To optimize this meal, use whole-wheat bread and natural peanut butter. The whole-wheat (versus white) bread ensures more of the carbohydrates are complex rather than simple. Natural peanut butter (or your preferred nut butter) cuts down on unnecessary additives. Instead of jelly, try using banana slices to bring this sandwich to its full pre workout food potential.

Pros

+ ​​Easy to pre-make and be ready to grab on the run

+ ​​A source of carbohydrates and protein

Cons

​​Must be sparing with jelly as it is high in simple carbohydrates

When To Eat

​This meal should be consumed about 30 minutes to an hour before working out.

Quality
Price
Our Rating

4​

$

4.5

Protein Shakes

Premier Nutrition High Protein Shake, Chocolate, 12Count
  • 30 gram protein per serving
  • 1 gram sugar
  • Low fat
Features

natural pre workout - ​Protein Shakes for Natural Pre Workout

Key Features of this product include ease of preparation and known proportions of nutrients needed for a natural pre workout food. Whey protein is one of many options to include as a source of protein. Instead of maltodextrin powder, which is a potentially over-processed source of simple carbohydrates, use stevia, dates, or honey as a source of carbohydrates.

Pros

+ ​​Easy to prepare

+ ​​Nutritional values can be highly controlled

Cons

​​Texture is unappealing to some

When To Eat

​This meal should be consumed about 30 minutes to an hour before working out.

Quality
Price
Our Rating

4.5

$

4.5

Product FAQ’s

What Do You Look For In A Natural Pre Workout Food?

To workout properly, you need to eat in order to have the energy to workout. If you are trying to lose weight, this might sound odd; isn’t the point to burn off the fat? Metabolism, however, does not work that way. Fat is for long-term energy storage, not an instantly accessible reserve.

​Regardless of the goal of your workouts, what you do need is a readily available energy source. As you expend the energy working out, you are encouraging your body to develop muscle. To build that muscle, you need to consume protein. The healthy body that you create by working out will require more energy. Over the longer term, this is will trigger the release of fat stores.

To get the energy you need to work out, we recommend you focus on eating foods that contain two of the three major food groups: carbohydrates and protein. The types of food and when you should eat them depend on the type of workout. The amount of time between eating and working out depends on the type of workout.

When Should You Eat Before Working Out?

Considering how it takes to digest a nutrient source is important when deciding how long before a workout you should eat. If you are consuming a light meal with simple carbohydrates and some protein, 30 minutes to an hour beforehand is enough time. If you are putting in a more strenuous workout that requires something more along the lines of 20g of protein and 20 to 30 g of complex carbohydrates, wait for 2 to 3 hours after eating to workout.

Why Should Carbohydrates Be Consumed Pre Workout?

Carbohydrates are the best source of energy for your body in terms of availability. They are broken down into glucose, which is converted into ATP by your cells. ATP is the primary source of energy for your cells. Carbohydrates can be converted into ATP more quickly than protein or fat can.

Carbohydrates come in two basic kinds, simple and complex. Which one is the preferred natural pre workout food? It depends on the goal of your workout.

Simple carbohydrates have a high glycemic index. This means these foods have a big impact on the amount of sugar available in your blood, raising the level quickly. These fast-acting carbohydrates should be consumed 30 minutes to an hour before working out.

Complex carbohydrates have a low glycaemic index and have more nutritional value per gram than simple carbohydrates. Whole grains contain complex carbohydrates. Foods such as oats or quinoa fall into this category. These should be eaten 2 to 3 hours before working out. They provide a slow release of energy. This will allow you to work out longer. It also makes you less likely to have a sudden drop in blood sugar.

4. Why Should Protein Be Consumed Before Working Out?

Consuming protein before working out can be majorly beneficial. Eating good sources of proteins promote the building of muscles from that protein.

Conversely, if you do not eat enough protein before working out, there could come a point in your workout where your body switches to burning muscle instead of building it. This prevents muscle growth and recovery. To avoid this, you must consume enough protein to offset the breakdown.

5. Should Fat Be Consumed Before Working Out?

​Too much fat should be avoided before working out. Although fat can be broken down for the most energy per gram (9 kcal per gram instead of the 4 kcal per gram carbohydrates and protein provide), it is slow to digest. This means the energy will not be readily available. Additionally, foods high in fat can make you heavy and sluggish.

How We Reviewed

​To come up with this list, only foods that contained appropriate types and amounts of protein and carbohydrates for a natural pre workout meal were considered. The amount of time before working out varies for each option. This will give you a variety of options to choose from depending on what the focus and timing of your workout is. Palatability of the food was also considered.

The Verdict

The absolute best pre workout food really depends on what you are trying to accomplish in your workout and what your tastes are. Apples with almond butter and raisins met all the needs of a quick, natural pre workout food for someone who is tackling the gym on the way home from work or early in the morning. This person doesn’t have a lot of time, probably doesn’t have a lot of energy (yet) and needs to eat something, so they fairly ask their body to work.

For someone looking to expend a lot of energy over a long period of time, the classic chicken, rice, and vegetables is the best option. If you are a vegetarian, you can always use your favorite protein substitute in the place of chicken. The only thing to consider is some of those substitutes are rather high in simple carbohydrates, so make sure you read the nutritional information.