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The 4 Best Pre-Workout Snacks to Power Up Your Workouts

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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To achieve optimal workout performance, it’s important to fuel your body with proper nutrition. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing resistance training or you’re trying to build muscle mass, you’re losing vital nutrients and energy during your training session. Once you’re finished, these reserves are entirely depleted and your body needs time to recover and replenish.

If you want to make this transition from a depleted state to a fully recovered one as smooth and fast as possible, you should give your body the right pre-workout snacks. These products are supposed to fill the gap left by your workout and provide essential nutrients, energy, and vitamins to help you power through your next session. When you already have them in your system, you will be able to put in more effort and get better results faster.

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In a Hurry? Here’s Our Best Picks

Barebells Soft Protein Bars Caramel Choco - 12 Count, 1.9oz Bars - Protein...
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CLIF BAR - Energy Bars - Variety Pack - Made with Organic Oats - 9-11g...
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Justin's Classic Almond Butter, Only Two Ingredients, No Stir, Gluten-free,...
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Jacked Factory NITROSURGE Pre Workout Supplement - Endless Energy, Instant...
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Product's nameBest Protein Source Snack
Barebells Soft Protein Bars Caramel Choco - 12 Count, 1.9oz...
Best Source of Energy
CLIF BAR - Energy Bars - Variety Pack - Made with Organic...
Best Source of Healthy Fats
Justin's Classic Almond Butter, Only Two Ingredients, No...
Best Protein Powder
Jacked Factory NITROSURGE Pre Workout Supplement - Endless...
Final ThoughtBarebells Protein Bars are a great option for those who want to get the most out of their workouts.If you need a little pick-me-up before your workout, CLIF Energy Bars are a great option.If you need an all-natural snack to get your energy levels up, Justin's Almond Butter can bridge the gap.Sticking to traditional protein powder can be quite difficult, especially when it comes to taste. Jacked Factory NitroSurge solves that problem with its appetizing flavor and smooth texture.
Protein20 g10 g8 g10 g
Energy Value204 kcal346 kcal210 kcal195 kcal
Carbohydrates16 g44 g9 g17 g
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Why You Should Trust Us

As a collective, the BoxLife team understands the crucial role that pre-workout nutrition plays in maintaining peak performance and reaching your fitness goals faster and more efficiently. Even though your training regimen is the foundation of any success story, it’s only a small part of the equation.

Nutrition and proper supplementation are also paramount for achieving optimal results and you shouldn’t underestimate their importance. That’s why we’ve taken the time to painstakingly go through all of the best pre-workout snacks out there and narrow down the list to only those who actually deliver on the hype and promises. Not all products have the same effects and there’s certainly something for everyone.

Who Is This Guide For

If you’re doing an intense workout program and you find yourself lacking the necessary energy and push to finish a session, then you should definitely consider giving this guide a read. Not only do we have the best pre-workout snacks listed, but we also explain what makes them great and who they’re best suited for. If you’ve been struggling with staying on top of your nutrition and want to find an effective and convenient solution, this is where you should start.

How We Picked the Best Products

Our quest for the ultimate pre-workout snacks started with a thorough review of all products on the market. We compared our own findings with what others had to say about each product on the internet and looked through user discussions on Reddit and Quora, with each platform giving us a wealth of personal experiences and first-hand accounts.

While each user has a specific taste, especially when it comes to food, we looked for common traits and made sure to also consider the type of nutritional value each product offered. We wanted to focus not only on the taste but also on the actual performance-enhancing capabilities of each item.

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How We Graded Each Product

When we had a more comprehensive list with the cream of the crop, it was time to grade them. We developed our own algorithm that took into consideration various aspects of a balanced meal, from the way that the food was sourced and manufactured all the way to its impact on our exercise performance. As such, we looked at each contender through the following four lenses:

  • Nutritional Profile – How each product addresses the nutritional needs of an athlete makes a huge difference in terms of optimal performance. We looked at the protein, carbohydrates, fats, fibre and vitamins that each product provides as well as their sources. Each one brings something unique to the table and we made sure to grade them accordingly.
  • Taste – If something doesn’t taste good it’s unlikely that you’ll eat enough of it to get all of its benefits. We looked for snacks that were not only nutritious but also enjoyable and easy to consume. Oftentimes, there’s an association of healthy food with bland taste and we looked to break this stereotype.
  • Convenience – Are you able to put the product together quickly and easily? Does it require a lot of preparation, measuring or cooking? Many of us lead busy lifestyles and don’t necessarily have enough time to prepare elaborate meals, so we looked for snacks that are convenient and can be eaten on the go.
  • Price – Not everyone can stretch their budget for snacks, and we get it. You don’t even have to splurge on food to reap its benefits. We tried to look for a good balance between price and quality when grading each item, as well as potential savings opportunities.

The Best Pre-Workout Snacks

After we had the scores for each product, we compared them with one another to come up with an overall ranking. In the end, only the best of the best made it onto our list and we believe that you’ll find something in here that is just right for your specific needs and preferences.

Barebells Protein Bars – Best Protein Source

No workout is complete without a proper protein source. This particular ingredient works to help our bodies build and repair muscles, while also providing essential nutrients. With each training session, your body uses protein to build muscle and increase strength. If you lack the proper protein in your diet, you may find it difficult to reach your fitness goals.


  • Delicious taste and texture
  • High protein content to support muscle growth and repair
  • Contains healthy fats, carbohydrates, minerals & vitamins for full body nutrition
  • Gluten-free and sugar-free alternative to traditional protein bars


  • Some flavors are higher in carbohydrates than others
  • Not suitable for those who are lactose intolerant

Key Specs

Energy Value204 kcal
Protein20 g
Carbohydrates16 g

Why It’s Great

Oftentimes, we associate protein bars with bland, chalky flavors and textures. While that was most certainly true of protein bars in the past, Barebells has revolutionized the industry with its scrumptious and nutritious products. Not only are these options a great source for a pre-workout snack, but they can also be enjoyed any time of day.

Each item brings a mouth-watering flavor and texture while providing essential nutrients. They’re easily metabolized and quickly digested to help get the most out of your workout. Whether you’re looking for an afternoon snack or a pre-workout boost, they’re sure to satisfy your cravings and keep your energy levels up.

In terms of flavors, there’s no shortage of delicious options to choose from that will tantalize your taste buds. From classic caramel and chocolate to the newer cookies and cream varieties, each one is both delicious and nutritious at a very reasonable price.

Who It’s Best For

Barebells Protein Bars are a great option for those who want to get the most out of their workouts. The high protein content helps to support muscle growth and repair, while the other nutrients provide essential vitamins and minerals for full body nutrition and to help with energy levels. They’re quite versatile when it comes to when they can be consumed, and the variety of flavors gives you plenty of room to choose.

CLIF Energy Bars – Best Source of Energy

Nothing quite matches the anticlimactic feeling that comes from starting your set and realizing you have no energy left. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just had a long day at work or it’s your fourth gym session of the week. Without a proper source of energy, you won’t be able to push yourself as hard or reach the same level of performance. Thankfully, the energy that you need is a lot closer than you think.


  • Delicious taste and texture
  • Full of complex carbohydrates for sustained energy levels
  • Contains proteins, vitamins & minerals for full body nutrition
  • Fully certified organic and Non-GMO formula


  • Some flavors are higher in sugar than others
  • Not suitable for those with nut allergies

Key Specs

Energy Value346 kcal
Protein10 g
Carbohydrates44 g

Why It’s Great

When it comes to energy bars, CLIF is the undisputed king. Each bar contains a blend of complex carbohydrates and protein to provide you with sustained energy throughout your workout. While they do contain a bit more carbs than some other bars, the added benefit of high-quality protein helps to balance out your diet.

The energy value of each bar is also quite impressive. Not only are they packed with essential nutrients, but the fact that you can use them for a pre-workout snack or post-workout refuel means that you’ll always have enough energy to get through your day. Not to mention the admirable blend of vitamins and minerals, which helps to keep your body in proper balance.

The selection of flavors is quite diverse and you’re sure to find something to fit your tastes. From chocolate indulgence to fruity favorites, each one offers a delicious taste with just enough sweetness to keep you going. Plus, they are all certified organic and non-GMO, so you can feel good about what you’re eating.

Who It’s Best For

If you need a little pick-me-up before your workout, CLIF Energy Bars are a great option. The complex carbohydrates provide you with sustained energy levels and the blend of proteins and vitamins helps to keep your body in balance. They offer a wide variety of flavors that offer just enough sweetness and deliciousness to make them an enjoyable snack. They’re quite tasty, so even if you’re not looking for an energy boost, they’re still a great way to satisfy your cravings.

Justin’s Almond Butter – Best Source of Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are essential for anyone who lifts weights or exercises regularly. They provide our bodies with energy while also helping to keep us feeling full and satisfied. Our bodies need a balance of macronutrients that can help regulate our energy levels, and healthy fats are essential for maintaining that balance.


  • Appealing taste and texture
  • High in monounsaturated fats for sustained energy levels
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids for improved heart health
  • Keto-friendly and low-glycemic formula


  • May contain added sugar in some flavors
  • Can be a bit expensive compared to other options

Key Specs

Energy Value210 kcal
Protein8 g
Carbohydrates9 g

Why It’s Great

Almond butter is by far one of the most popular sources of healthy fats. Not only does it taste heavenly when added to smoothies or spread on toast, but it also provides vital nutrients and energy. It’s made from 100% roasted almonds that are high in monounsaturated fats, which help regulate your energy levels and keep you feeling full for longer.

Justin’s Almond Butter is one of the best brands out there due to its unique combination of healthy fats, minerals, and vitamins. Each product is low glycemic and keto-friendly to help you reach your weight goals. The added bonus of omega-3 fatty acids helps to improve heart health and reduce inflammation.

The selection of flavors is quite impressive as well. From classic honey almond butter to maple almond butter spread, each one offers something different that will satisfy your cravings. Plus, the fact that they’re easily portable makes them a great snack when you’re on the go. Just take a quick spoonful, and you’re good to go!

Who It’s Best For

If you need an all-natural snack to get your energy levels up, Justin’s Almond Butter can bridge the gap. Not only is it high in monounsaturated fats, but it also contains omega-3 fatty acids to promote heart health. It’s a great option for those who are looking to maintain their weight and yet still get the energy they need. The variety of flavors ensures that you’ll never get bored with your snack choices either.

Jacked Factory NitroSurge – Best Protein Powder

It doesn’t matter how much lean muscle you want to build or if your core exercises are on point; without the right protein powder, you won’t be able to reach your goals. While protein bars are quite potent and effective, the classic powder form offers a more convenient option that can be added to shakes or smoothies to improve their taste.


  • Delicious taste and texture
  • Contains 25g of whey protein per serving for improved muscle growth
  • Includes BCAA’s & glutamine to reduce recovery time between workouts
  • Natural ingredients, no artificial sweeteners or preservatives


  • May be too strong for some people
  • Pricey compared to other alternatives

Key Specs

Energy Value195 kcal
Protein10 g
Carbohydrates17 g

Why It’s Great

Jacked Factory NitroSurge is one of the best protein powders out there. Not only does it taste great, but each serving contains 10g of whey protein and a blend of essential micronutrients like BCAA’s and glutamine. These ingredients help to reduce recovery time between workouts and keep your body in an anabolic state.

Glutamine in particular plays a vital role in muscle preservation, as it helps to reduce muscle breakdown and improve recovery. When you pair it with other micronutrients like leucine, which helps to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, you get a potent combination that can help you reach your fitness goals.

The formula is also all-natural, so you won’t have to worry about any artificial sweeteners or preservatives. Plus, it’s quite affordable when compared to other options on the market. With each serving containing only 110 calories, you’re basically getting all the raw protein and nutrition you need without all the extra calories.

Who It’s Best For

Sticking to traditional protein powder can be quite difficult, especially when it comes to taste. Jacked Factory NitroSurge solves that problem with its appetizing flavor and smooth texture. It’s ideal for someone who wants to build muscle quickly as the high amount of whey protein helps to speed up recovery time between workouts. The blend of micronutrients also ensures that your body will stay in an anabolic state for longer.

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Great Tips for Choosing the Perfect Pre-Workout Snacks

Getting the most out of your workout starts well before you hit the gym. Proper nutrition is the key to maximizing your performance and achieving your fitness goals. One crucial aspect of your pre-workout routine is choosing the right snack to fuel your body and provide the energy you need to power through your exercises. With countless options available, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to eat before a workout.

Take a look at the essential factors to consider when choosing pre-workout snacks to help you make the best choices for your fitness journey.

Timing Is Everything

The timing of your pre-workout snack is crucial. Eating too close to your workout can lead to discomfort during exercise, while eating too far in advance may leave you feeling sluggish. As a general rule, aim to have your snack about 30 minutes to an hour before your workout. This time frame allows your body to digest the food and convert it into usable energy without causing any discomfort during your exercise routine.

Carbohydrates for Quick Energy

Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy. They are broken down into glucose, which fuels your muscles during physical activity. Opt for easily digestible carbohydrates, such as fruits, energy bars, or whole-grain crackers. Avoid high-fiber foods, as they can cause bloating or gastrointestinal distress. The ideal pre-workout snack should contain complex carbohydrates that release energy steadily throughout your workout, helping you maintain endurance.

Don’t Forget the Protein

While carbohydrates are essential for quick energy, protein plays a crucial role in repairing and building your muscles. Including some protein in your pre-workout snack can help prevent muscle breakdown during exercise. Opt for lean protein sources like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or a protein smoothie. Combining protein with carbohydrates can also enhance the effectiveness of both nutrients.

Keep It Light

Pre-workout snacks should be light and easily digestible. Large meals or heavy foods can lead to discomfort and reduce your exercise performance. Aim for a balanced snack that satisfies your hunger without leaving you feeling too full. Remember, the focus is on providing energy for your workout, not a full-blown meal.

Hydration Is Key

Staying hydrated is vital for optimal athletic performance. Before your workout, consider drinking water or a low-calorie beverage to ensure you’re adequately hydrated. Avoid sugary drinks or excessive caffeine, as they can lead to energy crashes during your workout.

Personal Preferences and Dietary Restrictions

When selecting a pre-workout snack, consider your personal preferences and any dietary restrictions you may have. Not everyone enjoys the same foods, and some individuals may have allergies or dietary restrictions that limit their snack options. Luckily, there are numerous alternatives available, so you can find the perfect snack that suits your taste and dietary needs.

Mind Your Macros

The macronutrient composition of your pre-workout snack can have a significant impact on your exercise performance. Strive for a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and a moderate amount of healthy fats. Fats digest more slowly, so having a large amount before exercise may lead to discomfort. However, a small amount of healthy fat, like that found in nuts or avocado, can provide sustained energy.

Consider the Workout Intensity

The type and intensity of your workout should also influence your pre-workout snack choice. For high-intensity workouts, like weightlifting or intense cardio, you may benefit from more carbohydrates for quick energy. Endurance activities, such as long-distance running or cycling, might require a mix of carbohydrates and protein to sustain your energy levels throughout the duration of the workout.

Experiment and Listen to Your Body

Finding the perfect pre-workout snack might take some trial and error. Different people respond differently to various foods, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Pay attention to how your body feels during and after workouts with different snacks, and adjust your choices accordingly. Your body will give you valuable feedback on what works best for you.

Avoid Sugary Snacks

While some sugars can provide a quick energy boost, sugary snacks can lead to energy crashes and leave you feeling tired mid-workout. Opt for snacks with natural sugars, like those found in fruits, and pair them with a protein source to maintain stable energy levels.

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Fueling Your Workout: The Incredible Benefits of Eating Pre-Workout Snacks

When it comes to achieving your fitness goals, what you eat before your workout can make all the difference. Pre-workout snacks, when chosen wisely, serve as a vital source of energy and nutrients that can enhance your exercise performance and overall fitness journey. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting on your fitness path, understanding the benefits of eating pre-workout snacks can take your workouts to the next level. 

Sustained Energy Boost

One of the primary benefits of consuming pre-workout snacks is the significant boost in energy they provide. Carbohydrates, the body’s primary source of energy, are broken down into glucose during digestion. This glucose is then used by your muscles to power through your exercise routine. By having a pre-workout snack that includes complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, fruits, or oats, you ensure a steady release of glucose into your bloodstream, keeping your energy levels stable throughout your workout. This sustained energy is particularly important for high-intensity workouts and endurance activities, as it helps you perform at your best for longer durations.

Enhanced Workout Performance

When you provide your body with the right nutrients before exercising, you optimize your workout performance. Pre-workout snacks that contain a balanced combination of carbohydrates and protein can help prevent muscle breakdown and improve muscle repair and recovery. Protein supports the synthesis of new muscle tissue and helps maintain your existing muscles, making it crucial for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike.

Moreover, the energy boost from the pre-workout snack allows you to push through challenging exercises, lift heavier weights, or run longer distances. With improved performance, you can reach your fitness goals faster and make progress in your training.

Improved Focus and Concentration

Have you ever experienced a mental fog or lack of focus during a workout? Pre-workout snacks can also benefit your cognitive performance. Foods that contain healthy fats, like nuts and seeds, can support brain function and mental clarity. Additionally, some snacks rich in antioxidants, such as berries, can help protect your brain cells from oxidative stress and improve cognitive function during exercise.

When your brain is alert and focused, you can maintain proper form and technique during your workout, reducing the risk of injury and allowing you to get the most out of each exercise.

Prevents Muscle Catabolism

During intense exercise, your body can enter a catabolic state where it breaks down muscle tissue to use as an energy source. Consuming a pre-workout snack that includes protein can help prevent this muscle breakdown and provide your body with an alternative source of energy. This is especially crucial if you are working out in a fasted state or have a long gap between your last meal and your workout.

By supplying your muscles with amino acids from the protein in your pre-workout snack, you promote muscle protein synthesis, leading to muscle repair and growth. This not only improves your workout performance but also aids in long-term muscle development.

Faster Recovery

What you eat before your workout can impact your recovery post-exercise. Including carbohydrates in your pre-workout snack replenishes your glycogen stores, which are depleted during intense physical activity. The availability of glycogen helps your muscles recover more efficiently and reduces post-workout fatigue.

Pairing carbohydrates with protein in your pre-workout snack can further enhance your recovery process. The combination of these nutrients supports muscle repair and reduces muscle soreness, enabling you to bounce back quicker and be ready for your next workout session.

Regulates Blood Sugar Levels

Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is essential for overall health, and pre-workout snacks can help achieve this balance. Consuming a well-balanced snack with complex carbohydrates and protein can prevent rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels during exercise. These sudden fluctuations can cause dizziness, weakness, and fatigue, hindering your workout performance.

By choosing the right pre-workout snacks, you ensure a more stable blood sugar profile, promoting sustained energy and improved exercise endurance.

Customizable to Individual Needs

One of the great advantages of pre-workout snacks is their versatility and customizability. Different people have unique nutritional requirements, taste preferences, and dietary restrictions. With a wide range of options available, you can tailor your pre-workout snack to suit your needs. Whether you prefer fruits, energy bars, smoothies, or homemade snacks, you have the freedom to create a snack that supports your fitness goals and satisfies your taste buds.

The bottom line is, eating pre-workout snacks offers a myriad of benefits that can take your fitness journey to new heights. Choose snacks that include a balanced combination of carbohydrates, protein, and, if necessary, healthy fats to optimize your pre-workout nutrition.

And don’t forget that individual needs vary, so it’s essential to experiment with different snacks and find what works best for you. Whether you’re fueling up for an intense training session or a moderate exercise routine, a well-chosen pre-workout snack can be the key to unlocking your full athletic potential and achieving your fitness aspirations.

Cereal, fruits and milk which are great pre-workout snacks
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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I increase my energy before a workout?

To increase your energy before a workout, consider the following strategies:

Stay Hydrated: Ensure you’re well-hydrated throughout the day and especially before your workout. Dehydration can lead to decreased energy levels and performance.
Eat a Balanced Meal: Consume a balanced meal containing complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats about 1 to 3 hours before your workout. This provides sustained energy and supports muscle function.
Have a Pre-Workout Snack: If you’re short on time, opt for a light snack with easily digestible carbohydrates, like a banana or an energy bar, about 30 minutes to an hour before your workout.
Limit Heavy Meals: Avoid large, heavy meals right before your workout, as they can cause discomfort and sluggishness.
Get Enough Sleep: Prioritize quality sleep to ensure your body is well-rested and ready for physical activity.
Consider Supplements: Some people find pre-workout supplements containing caffeine and other performance-enhancing ingredients beneficial for an extra energy boost. However, consult a healthcare professional before using any supplements.

What should I eat 30 minutes before a workout?

Choosing the right pre-workout snack when you have only 30 minutes before your workout requires quick and easily digestible options. Focus on simple carbohydrates that provide a fast energy source. Here are some examples of pre-workout snacks to eat 30 minutes before your workout:

Banana: A banana is an excellent choice as it contains natural sugars and essential nutrients, providing a quick energy boost.
Energy Bar: Opt for an energy bar specifically designed for pre-workout, containing carbohydrates and a moderate amount of protein.
Rice Cakes with Nut Butter: Rice cakes are easily digestible, and pairing them with nut butter adds a touch of healthy fats and protein.
Greek Yogurt with Honey: Greek yogurt is a good source of protein and combining it with honey provides a quick source of carbohydrates.
Fruit Smoothie: Blend some fruits like berries, a banana, and a little bit of protein powder or Greek yogurt for a well-rounded pre-workout snack.

It’s essential to keep the portion light to avoid discomfort during your workout while still providing your body with the necessary fuel for optimal performance.

How long before the gym should I eat a banana?

A banana is a convenient and quick source of energy, making it an excellent pre-workout snack. Ideally, you should eat a banana about 30 minutes to an hour before hitting the gym. This time frame allows your body enough time to digest the banana and convert its natural sugars into usable energy for your workout.

Since bananas are easily digestible, they won’t weigh you down during exercise, making them an ideal choice for a pre-workout snack when you’re short on time.

Is coffee good for pre-workout?

Yes, coffee can be a good pre-workout drink for many people. The caffeine in coffee is a natural stimulant that can enhance focus, alertness, and physical performance. It may also increase adrenaline levels, leading to improved workout intensity.

However, individual responses to caffeine can vary. Some people may be more sensitive to its effects, while others may experience jitteriness or stomach discomfort. It’s essential to know your tolerance to caffeine and adjust your intake accordingly.

If you decide to use coffee as a pre-workout, consume it about 30 minutes before your workout to allow enough time for the caffeine to kick in. Avoid adding excessive sugar or high-calorie creamers, as these may counteract the potential benefits of the coffee. Additionally, remember to stay hydrated and balance your coffee intake with other sources of hydration throughout the day.

Are eggs good pre-workout?

Yes, eggs are a good pre-workout option. They are a complete protein source and provide essential amino acids for muscle repair and growth. Eggs also contain healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that support overall health and energy production. Eating eggs as part of your pre-workout meal can help sustain energy levels during exercise and prevent muscle breakdown.

However, eggs take longer to digest, so it’s best to consume them at least an hour before your workout to avoid discomfort during exercise.


Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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