Everyone knows the importance of exercise in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially in college. However, what many do not know is how the foods we eat affect our workouts. If you dedicate the time to go to the gym, you probably want to make the most out of your workout. Keep on reading to learn more about the dos and don’ts of pre-workout fuel.

Nut Butter and Bananas

Nuts are a great source of fuel, and nut butters are even more versatile. Spread a tablespoon of nut butter on toast, top with a sliced banana, and you will have all the energy you need for even the most intense workouts. Bananas are a great source of potassium and easy-to-digest carbohydrates, two things the body quickly uses up during a workout. In addition, bananas prevent muscle cramps.

Lean Chicken or Turkey

Smoked Turkey & Spinach Sandwich

Photo by Chris Ingallina

Protein is essential for muscle recovery. It is not broken down quickly enough to be used as exercise fuel if it is eaten right before a workout, so try to eat it several hours before. Lean chicken and turkey are low-fat choices and can be easily incorporated into lunch or dinner. Try a few slices of lean protein on whole wheat bread.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt, raspberry jam and blueberries

Photo by papaya_

Just like chicken and turkey, Greek yogurt is high in protein, which caters to vegetarians and vegans. Pair a cup of Greek yogurt with a banana, granola, berries or chia seeds for a digestible, high-protein and high-energy pre-workout snack.

Some general advice…

Before working out, avoid eating too much fiber, which can cause indigestion and bloating. Also, fat takes longer to digest and stays in the stomach longer, so too much fat, even the healthy kind, can cause sluggishness during a workout. Of course, avoid anything high in sugar like candy – that initial rush of energy is short-lived!