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10 pre-exercise snacks that WON’T ruin your diet

It’s a conundrum – what to eat before exercise that will give you energy, not weigh you down and not ruin the reason you’re exercising (or one of them) which is to stay in shape. Nutritionist Rick Hay has the snacks that tick the boxes

There are some great natural foods that you can eat prior to exercise that will give you that extra energy boost that you require to exercise efficiently. These are a whole lot better for your body than many of the cleverly marketed, heavily caffeinated energy drinks or the sugary pre-exercise health bars that are the current health fad.

These are five of my favourite natural energy producing choices that will not only help provide the energy to work out but will also help with weight management and also improve mood.

You should consume these 20 to 30 minutes before exercise for the best results.


Banana with Yoghurt and Cinnamon This natural energy fuel helps with slow energy release and also helps to stabilise blood sugar levels – this keeps your focused and keeps you in the zone! The banana is high in potassium which is often lost during exercise and is important if you want that extra zing. The yoghurt should be one of the non sugary varieties and preferably organic – you only need one tablespoon. I recommend Rachel’s Organic Greek Style with Honey. Coconut yogurt is another good choice if you want to go for a non dairy option. Coyo is vegan and organic

Small Porridge Bowl with Berries Another slow release carbohydrate choice, oats assist with energy production and mood. The berries are a phytonutrient powerhouse that also help to keep your immune system in tip top condition throughout winter whilst the B Vitamins in the oats help with cognitive function, mood and endurance. The stamina enhancing B Vitamins work in synergy with with the natural low fat energy of the berries. Read Healthista’s round up of new options in porridge

Porridge Berries

An apple and 8 almonds The pectin in the apple helps to keep you feeling full and provides an energy burst whilst exercising. The protein in the almonds helps to feed your muscles. Although this is a simple pre workout snack you may be surprised at the results – it’s much better than trying to exercise on an empty or hungry stomach which can lead to exhaustion and muscle wastage.

Energy Smoothie Blend a cup of berries with 250 mls of almond or rice milk (great for energy on their own if you’re not near a blender).  You could use coconut water to really turbo charge your energy smoothie – if you do, add a little sea salt to help raise the sodium levels of the coconut water. Read more about coconut waters. This will help with hydration and together with the potassium in the banana delivers a better electrolyte balance which is important if you are sweating. Add a tablespoon of a plant based protein powder to help with energy production and toning if desired. Read Rick’s post about protein powders

berries smooothie

Nuts and Dried Fruit A handful or two of nuts and dried fruit is an easy way to deliver nutrients and fast fuel your body- this combination of protein and carbs helps to feed your muscles and natural energy production at a cellular level.

One boiled egg with one cracker Again the protein and carbohydrate combination is perfect to get you ready for a good session. The eggs help with lean muscle mass and toning whilst the cracker provides the carbs to keep you going.

boiled egg

Half glass of beetroot juice athletes drink this pre workout for hydration as it helps produce nitric oxide in the body which helps you to give that little bit extra energy. You can buy beetroot shots from many health food stores – you may be surprised by the results that you get in increased energy and performance if you give it a go.

beet it

Beet-it are the ones that I use. Add a little cranberry juice to make it a more palatable if beetroot is not your thing.

Beetroot juice

Spirulina – I am fan of this algae supplement pre-exercise as it’s vitamin and mineral rich and high in chlorophyll which is natural energy from the sun. Take six capsules prior to exercise for best results. Synergy Naturals or Lifestream are brands I recommend.

Sapphire-Blueberry-ShotsSapphire Blueberry Shots are another fast track to energy – this bio available liquid blend can be taken as a shot thirty minutes before exertion for optimum energy boosting results. Fortified with olive leaf, aloe and Turmeric these shots are antioxidant rich and can help to bolster immunity whilst exercising.

DO-IT-YOURSELF Mix a little turmeric in a little juice or with a berry herbal tea for a do it yourself version. Take with a handful of pumpkin of sunflower seeds for a protein punch.

605501bNakd food bars are another easy way to deliver energy providing nutrients to your cells in a natural raw form – they are a mix of fruit and nuts that come in some realty palatable varieties. They are also make the perfect mid morning or mid afternoon snack and are so delicious you could even have them as a healthy dessert. These natural energy boosters are the equal of many of the unhealthy choices that are heavily marketed – they not only help with energy production but also help to nourish the body’s immune and nervous systems.

Fruit bars

More from Rick Hay:

Is seven a day the new five a day?


HOW-TO choose a protein powder

What to eat if you exercise

Rick PhotoRick Hay is a sport and exercise nutritionist, lectures at The College of Naturopathic Medicine in London and is available for consultations in central London. Contact Rick or follow Rick at @nutrtionalphys

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