Q. I work out early in the morning. Should I eat a pre-workout snack even if I’m not hungry?

A. In short, yes. Most experts agree that fueling your body for maximum performance is essential. The key is to tailor your meal or snack to the time of day and type of exercise.

For those pre-dawn workouts, keep nutritious, on-the-go snacks at the ready. Be mindful of portion size and aim for about 100 to 200 calories. Mini meals like a brown rice cake or banana with a tablespoon of nut butter, a serving of low-fat Greek yogurt, a hard-boiled egg, or a quarter-cup of whole-grain cereal with dried fruit and nuts (e.g., pistachios or almonds) at least 30 minutes before you hit the studio will give you the quick energy you need to power through your workout.

Save the fat and fiber for post-workout, since those nutrients take longer to digest. Replenish with a more substantial recovery meal, such as a veggie, avocado and low-fat cheese omelet with whole-grain toast, an antioxidant-rich berry smoothie or oatmeal with fruit.

Another performance-boosting pointer: Avoid big late-night dinners and alcohol the night before a workout, which will likely disrupt sleep, make you feel sluggish and affect your routine. Instead, opt for a balanced meal like grilled salmon or chicken breast with a green salad and sweet potato to keep your blood sugar levels in check for a more restful snooze.


Nutrition expert Leslie Dantchik, MS, is the author of the health blog alphabitesnyc.com. The longtime Pilates and exercise enthusiast has a master’s in applied physiology and nutrition from Teachers College, Columbia University.


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