The Other 23

Your Top Pre-Workout Snacks

By Mike Roussell, PhD

Want to have your best workout? Then what you eat right before your workout is key. Your goal: consume foods and nutrients that can fuel you through your session without overwhelming your digestive system.

And yes, this can mean more than pre-workout shakes. Sometimes, a solid food meal, 90-120 minutes before a workout can be exactly what you need. Timing is critical, helping minimize the diversion of blood from your muscles to your digestive system. Consider these three options (or mix them in with your favorite protein shake) before your workout.



Beets are chock full of nitrates, small compounds that increase oxygen-rich blood flow throughout your body. Nitrates accomplish this by boosting nitric oxide production, which limits fatigue and boosts muscular endurance for up to 6 hours. This is critical if you’re over age 30; nitric oxide production decreases by 20% with every decade starting in your 30s.

Eat Em! Roast washed/cleaned beets at 375 degrees for 60 minutes. They can stay in your refrigerator for 5 days and easily be added to a smoothie or eaten cold.



Forget Red Bull. Cappuccino’s blend of milk (carbs and protein) and coffee (caffeine) make it a terrific pre-workout drink. The caffeine will boost your total work capacity during long workouts, while the carbs and protein help feed your muscles. Note this though: Caffeine peaks in the bloodstream about 45 minutes after consumption, so don’t down this too close to your workout. 

Drink it! A 10-12-ounce cappuccino is a good place to start. Feel free to add an extra shot of espresso if you need the extra kick.

Baked Sweet Potato & Honey:

Baked Sweet Potato

This pre-workout twist on a classic bodybuilding food, yams, might have you thinking about holiday dinners instead of hamstring curls. But it’s also a strategic choice: Sweet potatoes are loaded with complex carbs, and the honey offers a quick sugar boost. The blend delivers steady energy – and fatigue-fighting carotenoids (the reason yams have their orange color).

Do This! Stab a sweet potato with a fork a couple times, wrap it in a paper towel and microwave for 5-7 minutes.  Slice it open lengthwise and drizzle with honey. Enjoy this snack about 90 minutes before your workout to reap the benefits.


AUTHOR BIO: Mike Roussell, PhD

Mike Roussell, PhD, is an author, speaker, and nutrition strategist who has spent more than 20 years transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical habits that change lives.

His clients have included NBA all-stars, tech execs, and TV personalities.

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