You may have seen videos or images of bodybuilders enjoying elaborate pre-workout meals of grilled chicken, rice, and veggies an hour or two before their workout. However, in today’s fast-paced world, you may not have the luxury of time to prepare and enjoy such complex meals.

That’s where protein snacks and shakes come into the picture. Depending on your fitness goals, there are numerous pre-workout snack ideas you can try.

Do you want to build muscle, shed those extra pounds, or simply boost your energy levels? From protein-packed snacks to low-calorie choices and everything in between, we've got you covered.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pre-workout snacks are important because they provide you with the nutrients you need to maximize your workout performance and achieve your fitness goals.
  • You should select pre-workout snacks that align with your specific fitness goals, such as muscle gain, weight loss, or boosting your energy levels.
  • Quick and easy, yet nutrient-dense, the right choice of pre-workout snacks offers convenience without compromising on nutrition quality.

12 Pre-workout Snacks you can grab before hitting the gym

Having quick and convenient pre-workout snack options at your fingertips can make all the difference in ensuring you're adequately fueled for your gym session.

Here are 12 quick and simple pre-workout snacks that are nutrient-rich and will help you crush your fitness goals.

Pre-workout Snacks for Muscle Gain

For muscle gain, the focus needs to be on adequate protein intake. You also need to add some carbs to provide you with the energy to lift the weights. Healthy fats in the preworkout meal offer sustained energy for longer, more intense workout sessions.

  • Banana and Peanut Butter Sandwich
This is a classic pre-workout snack and a favorite among fitness enthusiasts. This yummy sandwich is power-packed with plenty of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Sandwiched between whole-grain bread, this snack is both delicious and nourishing. The creamy peanut butter is rich in protein, while the natural sugars in bananas provide for quick energy release. Just 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contain 7.2 grams of protein .
  • Whole Grain Crackers with Chicken and Cheese Slices

Pairing chicken and cheese slices with whole-grain crackers creates a winning combination of protein and complex carbs. This is not just delicious; you also get a good balance of protein, healthy fats, and carbs for fueling your workout and boosting muscle protein synthesis.

  • Mixed Berries with Nuts
When you pair the colorful mix of berries with a handful of nuts, you get rewarded with a satisfying blend of sweetness, crunch, and nutrition. Berries are low in calories but packed with antioxidants and fiber. Nuts provide healthy fats and protein to keep you feeling satisfied and energized .

Pre-workout Snacks for Weight Loss

If your goal is weight loss, it's best to choose a combination of low-calorie, high-fiber, protein-rich foods to support your weight loss journey.

  • Hard-Boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are a simple, convenient, and portable snack. Eggs are loaded with high-quality protein . They're low in calories but rich in nutrients. These make an excellent choice for those looking to trim down. The protein in eggs curbs appetite and promotes feelings of fullness. If these are too boring for you, then try our next suggestion.
  • Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps

This is a light and refreshing snack rich in protein, healthy fats, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Make an egg salad with hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, mustard, and some herbs of your choice. For a creamy, crunchy pre-workout snack that boosts weight loss and muscle building, wrap it in lettuce.

  • Crunchy Veggie Sticks with Hummus

Carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers can all be used to make this snack. Slice them into thin and long sticks. Have them with a dip, such as hummus or guacamole. The combination of fiber-rich vegetables and protein-packed hummus is one of the best pre-workout snacks for weight loss. This offers you the essential nutrients needed to support your workout performance while keeping calories in check.

Pre-workout Snacks for Energy

If you are looking for an energy boost to power through your workout, you should add more carbs and healthy fats to your pre-workout snack.

  • Whole Grain Sandwich with Avocado
A whole-grain sandwich with a creamy avocado filling is a delicious and nutritious snack that will keep you energized throughout your workout. The healthy fats in avocado help keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer. Fats are a slow-burning fuel that will help you get through endurance workouts. Rather than white bread, it's best to choose whole-grain bread, as these are high in fiber and offer metabolic health benefits . The complex carbohydrates in whole-grain bread can also offer you a steady release of energy.
  • Energy Balls Made with Oats, Honey, and Nuts

Looking for an energizing pre-workout snack to just grab and go? Have some energy balls made with oats, honey, and nuts. These bite-sized snacks are perfect for gaining an energy burst and jumpstarting your workout. You can customize them with additional ingredients and your favorite flavors.

  • Chocolate Espresso Protein Balls

What’s even better is an energy ball with both protein and caffeine. To make this, you can combine instant coffee powder, cocoa powder, protein powder, almond flour, almond butter or peanut butter, and some honey. Make small balls and refrigerate until firm.

Low-calorie Pre-workout Snacks

Low-calorie pre-workout snacks offer you all the nutrients you need while keeping calorie counts in check. Such snacks are ideal for those aiming to maintain or lose weight.

  • Rice Cakes with Cottage Cheese

Top some rice cakes with some creamy cottage cheese for a light and satisfying pre-workout snack. These are low in calories but high in protein. The cottage cheese adds a contrasting texture to the crunchy rice cake and provides a good protein boost. You can flavor the cottage cheese with garlic and herbs of your choice.

  • Celery Sticks with Peanut Butter

If you are looking for a lower-calorie alternative to the snack ‘Crunchy Veggie Sticks with Hummus’ then you can try dipping celery sticks in creamy peanut butter. Celery is low in calories and rich in water. Peanut butter contains protein and healthy fats to fuel your workout and promote muscle protein synthesis.

  • Air-popped Popcorn
Popcorn is a light and crunchy snack that's low in calories but high in fiber. Popcorn is a whole grain . It offers complex carbs for fueling your workout without weighing you down. But make sure to avoid the unhealthy fats found in commercially popped corn. It's best to make your own air-popped version at home and flavor them to your preference.

Should you take a pre-workout or energy drink before hitting the gym?

Energy drinks, as the name suggests, offer you a quick boost of energy to jumpstart your workout. Most brands of energy drinks are high in caffeine and sugar. Some of them contain certain amino acids or vitamins in small quantities. However, their protein content is usually too low to support muscle protein synthesis. So if you are into serious bodybuilding, stick to a pre-workout to maximize your muscle gains.

Pre-Workouts vs. Energy Drinks: Ready-to-use energy drinks are a convenient substitute for pre-workout shakes, especially if your workout is short and of moderate to low intensity. However, if you are planning on higher intensity or duration, you should go for a combination of high-quality protein, caffeine, and performance-boosting herbs such as ashwagandha. BCAAs, beta-alanine, electrolytes, and B vitamins are some of the other common ingredients found in pre-workout drinks.

What foods to avoid as a pre-workout?

The goal of pre-workout drinks or meals is to maximize your workout performance. This also means avoiding foods that can negatively impact your workout. This includes:

  • Sugary Snacks:

    High-sugar foods, such as sugary sodas, candy, and pastries, do provide some quick energy to jumpstart your workout. Once you eat them, there is a rapid spike in your blood glucose levels. However, this is short-lived, and your energy levels will crash before long. There is a sudden drop in your blood glucose levels, and this can leave you feeling tired and sluggish. Snacks with more complex carbohydrates, such as brown bread, bananas, or sweet potatoes, do not cause such drastic fluctuations in your blood glucose. They offer a more steady release of energy.
  • High-Fat Foods:

    Some amounts of healthy fat in your pre-workout snack help sustain your energy during endurance workouts. Fat takes time to digest. However, consuming too much fat before a workout can cause sluggishness and even gastrointestinal discomfort during your workout.
  • Large Meals:

    We want to feel light and energetic before a workout, ready to tackle any exercise. Having a large meal right before a workout can cause you to feel weighed down, bloated, and sluggish.

Try our Protein Coffee as a Pre-Workout Snack

Awesome Coffee’s protein coffee is a great choice for a quick and effective pre-workout snack. It contains high-quality protein sourced from pea protein and rice protein, making it suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Our proffee is sweetened with cane sugar and monk fruit. This sweetness is perfectly balanced with sea salt. You also get the added body-building benefits of ashwagandha with this drink. The best of all is the caffeine kick from this delicious coffee-flavored pre-workout drink.

Try our Protein Coffee as a Pre-Workout Snack Try our Protein Coffee as a Pre-Workout Snack

Is Awesome Coffee ® right for you?

Is Awesome Coffee ® right for you?




Pre-workout snacks provide your body with the fuel it needs to maximize your workout performance and achieve your fitness goals. You can customize your pre-workout snacks to boost energy, build muscle, and/or lose weight. You can make them high-calorie, high-carb, low-carb, or low-calorie as per your fitness needs.

Hitting the gym on an empty stomach with the hope of losing weight can rather negatively impact your performance. You have to provide your body with the nutrients it needs for optimum performance, recovery, and muscle growth.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How big should a pre-workout snack be?

A pre-workout snack can range from 150 to 300 calories, depending on your personal needs and fitness goals.

Is junk food a good pre-workout?

Junk food tends to be high in calories, fat, sugar, and/or refined flour. Their nutritional content is usually too poor to fuel your workout effectively. You may experience digestive discomfort or energy crashes during your workout.

Do pre-workout snacks work?

Yes, pre-workout snacks do work if you make the right choice of foods that fuel your workout and provide your body with the nutrients needed for optimum performance.

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