Pre-Workout Nutrition Tips from Susie Kundrat

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How do you maximize your training? It starts with preparing for your workout by getting a good night’s sleep, hydrating as soon as you wake up (drink at least 16 ounces of water, coffee, tea, juices, and your favorite morning beverages), and fueling your body with easy-to-digest foods to provide you with the energy you need to train at your best.

Keep it simple with your pre-workout fuel and fluids. Find fueling solutions that work for you that you can depend on day-in and day-out. We all have foods that work well for us, so listen to your body and be mindful of how you train depending on the different foods you eat, as well as the timing of when you eat. That way, you’ll know what works best for you.

Keep these tips in mind when fueling your body for training:

  1. If you have one to two hours before your workout, go with a smaller snack or meal. I recommend taking in a meal that is about half your normal size. That way, you don’t have too much food in your system, and you’re most apt to digest it and use it for your training session.
  2. If you won’t train for another three to four hours, it’s ok to have a regular-size meal. Just go easy on foods that are greasy or fried.
  3. Focus mostly on high carbohydrate foods and fluids that are easy to digest. These will give you high-energy options that can be put to use in your workout. Think 100% juices, yogurt, fruit, bread, tortillas, bagels, toast, oatmeal, cereal, pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, or bars, for starters.
  4. Shake the salt. Add salt to your meals and include salty foods like chicken noodle soup, saltines, crackers, and pickles.
  5. Remember that fluids can provide energy just as well as solid foods. If you prefer smoothies, shakes, or blended drinks, that’s ok, too. And drink plenty of water as part of your pre-workout fueling routine.

Try these pre-workout options based on the length of time you have before your workout:

An hour or less before you train: mostly fluids like 100% juices (try apple or cran-apple juices), smoothies, granola bars, bananas, graham crackers, saltines, and extra water.

1 to 2 hours before you train: a breakfast bowl (see the recipe below), scrambled eggs and toast, a bagel with peanut butter and canned fruit, or a small bowl of pasta with bread and a glass of 100% apple juice.

2 to 3 hours or more before you train: try a small meal like a turkey and cheese sandwich and a banana, a grilled chicken sandwich and baked chips, a hummus pita with an apple, or a half sandwich and soup combination.

Stick with the winners

When you find meals and snacks that work for you, sit well on your stomach, and reinforce a positive feeling when you train, stick with these foods. When you know you can rely on certain foods to help you train, that’s a big positive for you. You can be confident knowing you are fueling your body well and boosting the energy you need to train at your best.

High-Energy Breakfast Bowl 

I love making this fast breakfast or “anytime” recipe for a pre-workout meal or snack about two hours before I exercise. Sometimes I add a scoop of peanut butter or almond butter, a handful of nuts, or top it off with a little homemade granola.



  • ½ cup cooked oatmeal (or 1 packet oatmeal, microwaved)
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt (plain or your favorite flavor)
  • 1 cup berries
  • Dash of cinnamon

Nutrition Facts (may vary depending on your preferences): 300 calories, 55 grams carbohydrate, 17 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 7 grams fiber + vitamin C, vitamin D, potassium, B vitamins, and iron


Susie Kundrat, MS, RD, LDN, is the founder of Eat Move Groove ( and the author of Eat Move Groove: Unlock the Simple Steps to Lifelong Nutrition, Fitness, and Wellness, to be released in March 2024. She has worked with athletes and active people of all ages and levels (youth to professional) to boost performance and well-being with optimal nutrition, including the Milwaukee Bucks, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Fighting Illini, and the Northwestern University Wildcats. She is a clinical professor emeritus with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber College of Public Health and an adjunct instructor with the University of Illinois Food Science and Human Nutrition Department and Walla Walla Community College. For more fast and easy nutrition, fitness, and wellness tips, join Susie’s newsletter at Eat Move Groove.