7 Best Pre-Workout Foods for Women – What to Eat Before a Workout

Heading to the gym? Fuel up on all the best pre-workout foods to give your workout a boost.

When it comes to working out, we all want to get the most out of our training session. Whether you’re a runner, a weightlifter or a bodybuilder – finding the best pre-workout food can be the difference between leaving the gym feeling amazing, or disappointed.

When it comes to pre-workout foods or meals, not all snacks are made equal. There are certain foods that can give you body everything it needs to power through a workout. They help to keep hunger at bay, energize your body, fight off fatigue and even boost recovery.

And, finding that ideal pre-workout food for women can rely on quite a few different factors. you want to take your macronutrients into consideration to get a great boost of energy, along with something you can enjoy too.

With that in mind, if you really want to boost your performance and see big changes in your output at the gym, we recommend checking out our list of the best pre-workout food for women.

7 Best Pre-Workout Foods for Women

1. Oats

best pre-workout food for women

This high fiber food is the perfect option for a slow energy release. The complex carbs in oats are primed to deliver energy to your body, but as they take longer to break down, you’ll receive the boost over a prolonged period, throughout your workout. This makes it perfect for endurance or a time-consuming weights session.

What’s more, the high fiber content will keep you fuller for longer, so you don’t have to worry about a mid-workout hunger pang.

So, think about the type of training session you’re heading for and you may find that a good hearty bowl of oats delivers all the carbs you need, making it one of the best pre-workout meals for you.

2. Bananas

This powerhouse pre-workout food is a firm favourite for energy boosts. It utilizes simple sugars to give you a quick and effective carbohydrate boost and energy lift – perfect for those high intensity workouts.

You might often see athletes snacking on a banana between sets or games (depending on the sports!), that’s because this quick energy release is very powerful, and makes bananas one of the be pre-workout food options around.

It’s also packed full of potassium which supports muscle function and gives recovery a helping hand.

[Related Article: Pre-Workout for Women – Should you Use it?]

3. Whole grain bread

bread best pre-workout food for women

The whole grains within this bread offer up a generous portion of complex carbs, which should help you to fuel a long training session. Spread some peanut butter on there for additional protein and healthy fats that will add to your pre-workout lift.

It’s important you go for whole-grain for a pre-workout food for women, as this slower release of energy will last you longer and provide a more efficient source of energy for those longer workouts.

[Related Article: Black Wolf Pre-Workout – Will it Improve Your Workouts?]

4. Greek yogurt and fruit

Not only are fruits packed with health-promoting vitamins, they’re also a great source of carbohydrates. Greek yogurt on the other hand, is a great pre-workout food for women, as it brings an amazing hit of protein too.

This is key as, while carbs can help to energize you, a high protein diet increases muscle protein metabolization, which will help you to develop and maintain muscle and cut down recovery times [1].

If you’re looking to add muscle to your frame, opt for a normal Greek yogurt as the calories from the extra fat will help to increase your calorie intake too. If you’re looking to lose weight, go for a low-fat option – just watch out for the sugar content, as that will up your calories too!

Overall though, a serving of greek yogurt and fruit is a great all-round, health boosting pre-workout meal.

[Related Article: Powher Up Pre-Workout Review]

5. Trail mix

trail mix best pre-workout food for women

Nuts are packed full of calories and protein which should put you on track for an amazing workout. Just be aware that they’re high in fat which is what makes the so calorific. This may suit a weight gain diet better than a weight loss option.

6. Protein and banana shake

Why not combine the energizing benefits of banana with a handy shake? What’s more, by throwing some protein powder into the mixer, you can also keep muscle protein metabolism high, reduce recovery and boost the results of your workout. It’s one of the best pre-workout foods for women you can find.

Simply use your chosen milk or milk substitute, add one banana, a small portion of oats (for carbs and creaminess) and one banana before mixing together in a blender. And voila! You’re ready to hit the gym.

We like to use a handy personal blender so you can get your shake ready the night before the gym, and blend it freshly on the way to the gym. Super convenient and we find the shake tastes so much better when it’s freshly blended. This one from is our top pick for personal blender. 

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7. Chicken, veg and brown rice

Now, if you’re taking your diet really seriously, you might want to look at a more substantial pre-workout meal to help you achieve your goals. In which case, the classic grilled chicken breast, veg and brown rice combo is perfect for you.

It’s brimming with all those essential carbohydrates from the veg and brown rice, and is packed with high protein, lean chicken to promote recovery and results. Prep this in advance to make it as easy as possible to fit into your daily menu.

[Related Article: Transparent Labs PreSeries Lean Pre-Workout

When should I eat my pre-workout food?

It’s not just about what you eat when it comes to the best pre-workout food for women – you also need to time it right.

Eat too early and your workout might not coincide with the energizing boost you’re aiming for and you may even start to get hungry mid-session. Enjoy your pre-workout food too late and you may find you feel unwell during your training, which could even mean cutting your workout short.

To get the best results we recommend eating between 60-30 minutes before you start your workout. This depends on the food you eat too. If you’ve had a banana, you might find the smaller portion could be fine closer to the time of the workout.

But, if it’s a larger meal like the chicken, veg and brown rice, leave a longer gap between eating and training, but if it’s more of a snack then tuck in to your pre-workout food at around 30 minutes.

By giving yourself a little time, you’re allowing the body to process the carbohydrates and digest the food so you’re primed to work hard and do your best.

Best pre-workout foods for training goals

best pre-workout foods

With each different training goal, you may need to adapt your pre-workout food. For women who train for endurance races, the food focus before a training session is likely to be quite different to someone who needs a quick burst of energy for a sprint.

So, depending on what you’re hoping to achieve in your workouts or competitions, you should find the best pre-workout food for your needs.

Best pre-workout foods for muscle gain

If you’re looking to add mass to your frame you need to tick two key boxes: a high protein diet and a high calorie intake. These two things are a recipe for a stronger, more powerful body. As such, these pre-workout foods for muscle gain should help you get there:

  • Protein and oats with peanut butter: Mix protein powder into your oats to up your amino acid intake, and add peanut butter for those essential calories.
  • Chicken and wheat pasta: Cook up a portion of wheat pasta and add chicken and your chosen sauce to tick off the most important macros: carbs and protein.
  • Protein, banana and peanut butter shake: Wiz up your chosen milk, some protein powder, a banana and a dollop of peanut butter for a high calorie, muscle building boost

Ensure you’re pairing these pre-workout foods for muscle gain with the right type of training too. You should be lifting weights and pushing your body with each training session too. If you’re looking for some workouts to try to help you gain muscle, check out the workouts section of our website for inspiration.

Best pre-workout meal for weight loss

Weight loss may be on the agenda for you, therefore you need to ensure your calorie intake is lower than what you expend, you’re getting plenty of complex carbohydrates and a good portion of lean-mass-promoting protein too.

These are the three keys to weight loss, and a good pre-workout meal for weight loss should help to support you with that.

Check out these recipes for a taste of what you should be aiming for.

  • Protein and oats: Like the bodybuilding option, but sans peanut butter. Mix your favorite protein powder into your oats to promote a lean physique.
  • Apple and peanut butter: Add a little nut butter to a few slices of apple for a lower calorie, good protein start to your training session.
  • Half an egg-white omelette: Make a three egg omelette, but use only one yolk and three whites for a lower calorie, higher protein boost. Add chicken if you really want to up your amino acid intake.

Again, if weight loss is your aim, then it’s important you have the right workouts to support you with this too. We’ve written up a few options that you should aim to include in your workout routine as part of a healthy, weight loss effort. Check them out:

What’s more, it’s one thing getting a really good pre-workout meal for weight loss in your recipe book, but you should also make sure you’re eating the right amount of calories too. Check out our explain all article to see if you’re eating enough.

[Related Article: 4 Gauge Pre-Workout Review

Best pre-workout foods for energy

Whether you’re an endurance athlete or a weightlifter, energy is high on the priority list for most when it comes to finding the best pre-workout foods.

If you’re unsure of what to eat before the gym, we always think carbohydrates are a good place to start. And if energy is your key concern, then all of the options below give you a great serving of carbs.

Remember, go for the simpler carbs that you’ll find things like bananas and other fresh fruits if you need a quick and effective energy boost between sets. These pre-workout foods for energy offer up a quick release that will take effect much more quickly than complex carbs.

Check out these options to power up your next workout.

  • Fruit smoothie: blast a banana, some berries and some milk together for a high carb start to your training session.
  • Oats and banana: Pour yourself a large bowl of oats and add banana slices on top for a tasty treat ahead of a tasty workout.
  • Whole grain bread with peanut butter: Spread your favorite nut butter over a few slices of bread for the ultimate pre-workout energy boost.


Final word

Hopefully now you feel confident in what to eat before the gym. With the best pre-workout foods and meals under your belt, you can start every workout off well, and ensure you’ve got a solid energy boost throughout your workout.

With this in mind, you should start to see improvements in your performance! Whether that’s a faster time or a heavier lift, it’s all possible with the right pre-workout food for women.

If you want to take it to the next level, you might consider checking out a pre-workout supplement. Plenty of women use them to provide an added boost and it’s something you might want to try in addition to your pre-workout meal.

There are quite a few stim-free options out there too now, which is great if you prefer a gentler lift prior to a training session.

We’ve reviewed Powher Up pre-workout and Transparent Labs PreSeries Lean Pre-Workout – check them out!


gymgirlfit was created by health and fitness enthusiasts, with backgrounds in powerlifting and writing. We've written for a number of well-known fitness publishing companies.

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