If you’re the kind of person who loves working out in the morning, you’re not alone! Tons of fitness enthusiasts love a heart pumping morning as the first activity of their day.
But often, hopping on that bike or treadmill without a quick bite beforehand can leave you feeling lightheaded and even nauseous. That’s why sneaking in a snack before your endurance workout can do wonders in boosting its effectiveness and efficiency!
Let’s explore why oatmeal is a perfect pre workout meal for morning, noon, or night!
Why oatmeal has an excellent reputation as a pre-workout meal
What is oatmeal, anyway?
Oatmeal is de-husked oats that have been cut up into small pieces, softened, then eaten. Fortunately, all types of oatmeal (steel cut and rolled) are 100% whole grain and offer comparable amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
There are many benefits to a pre-exercise oatmeal serving, such as:
Oatmeal is a nutritious and satiating addition to any nutritious diet. Oatmeal’s low glycemic index plus soluble fiber helps with keeping a healthy digestive system and to lose weight.
Although no research directly links eating oatmeal with weight loss, studies have found oatmeal to be effective for appetite control. Its wholesome ingredients and nutritional content (especially fiber!) make it an awesome addition to a weight-loss regimen.
Increased endurance and muscle building
Ready for an intense workout? Eat oatmeal to give you energy!
Fortified oats contain an antioxidant called avenanthramide (AVA). AVA can reduce the stress created by intense exercise. Research even hints pre-workout oatmeal can have a protective effect that could reduce inflammation and muscle damage. This can help you recover more quickly between tough workouts.
How to eat oatmeal depending on your fitness goal?
If you’re looking to incorporate oatmeal into your pre-workout routine, you may be wondering if there’s a “right” and a “wrong” way to go about it.
Since oats can feel heavy and take a while to digest, it's best to reserve this snack for when you have more than an hour for digestion before a workout. Any type of oats — like steel-cut or rolled — provide a good pre-workout meal.
You can cook and eat oatmeal in the same way no matter your fitness goals, whether that be muscle building, endurance training. The nutritional benefits are comparable whether you cook hot oatmeal or eat cold overnight oats.
Which type of oats is good for working out?
The short answer is: all of them. :) But let’s break down each type of oatmeal so you can decide which option is best for you!
Steel Cut Oats (Irish Oats)
With their rich texture, steel cut oats are by far the thickest option on this list. As a result of their coarse texture, steel cut oats are chewy and have a slightly nutty flavor.
Steel cut oats made from scratch take a while to cook, and you should allow 20-30 minutes cooking time. So for those who are rushing to get to a workout class or pre-scheduled workout, steel cut oats may be too time consuming unless you’re using Proper Good oatmeal! We understand how time consuming cooking steel cut oats can be, and that’s why we’ve used steel cut oats as the oats of choice in our oatmeals. Proper Good Perfectly Plain Oatmeal is a great option because you can add your own protein rich toppings, perfect for a pre workout meal.
Rolled oats, also called old-fashioned oats, are the most common type of oats found around the world. This type of oats are ready in about 5-10 minutes, so this is a great option for those who don’t have much time to squeeze in a meal before their workout.
Rolled oats contain iron and energy-boosting B-vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. They’re also high in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol when you mix it into a healthy diet.
This is for the person who has no time to spare when preparing oats. Simply soak oats in your favorite liquid overnight and voila! A delicious pre workout meal.
Overnight oats boast the same benefits as steel cut and rolled oats, just at a colder temperature. So if you tend to break a sweat during a workout and are looking for a cold pre workout meal, overnight oats could be an excellent choice.
Ready Made Oats
Meanwhile, for those who crave convenience, ready made oats require no mixing, measuring, or prepping and can be ready in the microwave in just 90 seconds! A perfect grab and go on your way to the gym. Or, you can enjoy ready-made oats cold!
When to eat oatmeal before working out?
Oats provide a ton of energy but are slower to be released, making them an ideal pre workout meal. But when should you eat them pre workout?
Since oats can feel heavy and take time to digest, it's best to eat oats when you have more than an hour to spare before a workout.
Alternatives to oatmeal
Even the biggest oatmeal enthusiasts need to change things up once in a while! If you’re looking for new pre workout meal ideas, we’ve listed a few favorites:
Toast is not only nutritious, it can be made fun by using unique toppings! When eating toast before a workout, aim to eat 1.5-2 hours pre workout to ensure proper digestion. And, it’s important to choose quality over quantity when it comes to bread–variations that use real ingredients, no bleach, and no added sugars is best! Artisan breads, like those you buy fresh made at the deli or grocery store, often are high quality.
Avocado and egg on top of sprouted bread toast is a balanced pre workout snack filled with complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats. This meal is optimal before a heavy lifting session or an endurance run or hike. Meanwhile, ghee and jam on top of sourdough toast is a great snack before a swim, yoga, or Pilates session. That’s because ghee promotes to lose weight while adding a sense of tastiness and comfort to the toast!
Want something sweet, but looking to cut down on sugar? Fruit is a great solution, and fortunately serves as a filling pre workout snack. Combine fruit, like a banana or apple, with almond butter and you’ve got yourself a protein-rich snack perfect for adding fuel to your bike ride, hike, and more!
High-quality protein snacks
For those always on the go, portable, high protein snacks are a must on the way to the gym!
The best pre workout snacks are high in protein while being nutritious. High protein snacks promote fullness because they signal the release of appetite-suppressing hormones. They also slow digestion and stabilize blood sugar levels, giving you natural energy!
We love to grab jerky, trail mix, veggies with yogurt dip, a hard boiled egg, or cottage cheese to nosh on pre workout.
Just because you’re on the go doesn’t mean you have to settle for a sugary pre workout meal that will lead to an energy crash later! Oatmeal is a perfect pre workout meal due to its high nutritional and fiber content. And, it’s wonderfully delicious, too. ;)
If you’re looking for more yummy meal ideas excellent for pre workout and otherwise, check out these blog posts: