Best snacks to eat before HIIT for maximum energy

Workout Nutrition is an imperfect science: Eat too soon before you start your high-intensity effort, and you may feel nauseous; Run low on fuel before exercising, and you may not have enough energy to see through the entire workout. So if you’re a high-intensity interval training (HIIT)-lover wondering: “What should I eat before my workout?”, it’s time to call an expert.

Maria Garcia, Equinox’s Group Fitness Manager, HIIT Instructor and Certified NASM Nutrition Coach ponders a lot About how to walk into a workout class with maximum energy. “Pre-HIIT fueling is important because it ensures you stay strong throughout the training session,” says Garcia. “Who wants to feel light-headed and tired or run to the bathroom in the middle of class?” Retweet.

As someone who has studied nutrition and repped through his fair share of climbers, Garcia has some rules that will help fuel you with the right nutrients and allow optimal time for digestion. “About 45 minutes before HIIT class, I make sure I can perform at my best with optimal nutrition,” she says. “My pre-workout fuel is an easily digestible meal consisting of carbohydrates and protein. Carbs give you quick energy and protein supports your muscles and helps you recover faster.”

My pre-workout fuel is an easy-to-digest meal with carbohydrates and protein.” — Maria Garcia, Group Fitness Manager at Equinox and Certified NASM Nutrition Coach

While protein and carbs are great nutrients to take with you on your workout, there are certain nutrients that Garcia recommends you eat in moderation before you get moving and grooving. Specifically, fiber and fat. “Fiber right before a workout can cause digestive issues, and that’s the last thing you want during your workout,” explains Garcia. “Also, I stay away from eating a lot of fatty foods. Fat takes the longest to digest. It’s also a bad idea right before your workout—you won’t have enough time to digest it before you hit that class.”

Of course, you don’t want to eat too much food before you start warming up—even if your mega-snack includes all the right nutrients. “You don’t want to eat a big protein bar, a high sugar drink like soda, or any big meal right before your workout. Keep the snack small but with the right nutrients, and it will get you through your best HIIT class,” says Garcia.

Now that you know the science behind pre-fitness nutrition, you’re ready to get to the good stuff. And by that, I mean… snacking. Below, Garcia shares four of her favorite snacks for noshing before, *ahem*, to hurt Gym.

The 4 Best Snacks to Eat Before a HIIT Workout According to a Nutritionist-Slash-Coach

In short: All of these criteria mean that picking a pre-HIIT snack isn’t exactly straightforward. But with all her time teaching HIIT and studying nutrition, Garcia has some go-to snacks you can steal for yourself.

  • A small banana with peanut butter
  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • Low sugar protein shakes
  • Whole wheat toast with a few slices of avocado

So is the science of pre-workout snacking officially… cracked? Not quite. “Everyone is different, and what works perfectly for one person may not be the best for another. It’s important to choose foods that work for you based on your goals, health status, and preferences, as well as to create sustainable and successful results, ” adds Garcia. So take his snacking choices as a suggestion and test With your own workout – right?

Check out this full-body, no-equipment HIIT workout:


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