Healthy Snack Ideas

7 Hormone-Balancing, Energy-Boosting Snacks a Dietitian Loves for Pre-Workout Fuel

Photo: Stocksy/David Sciora

Jessica Bippen, MS, RD, of @nourishedbynutrition is an excellent food and nutrition follow on social media, thanks to her accessible approach to healthy eating and living. She shares everything from recipes, skin care products, workout advice, and even mommy tips for helping kiddos get more fruits and veggies. But the one post by Bippen that we keep coming back to lately is her top hormone-balancing snacks for fueling a workout, whether it’s an early morning wake-up call or an after-work class.

“If you’re doing a high-intensity workout or a workout that lasts longer than 30 minutes, eating a small snack can be really helpful in fueling your workout,” says Bippen. She explains that whether you’re looking to lift heavier weights, increase your stamina, or simply have more overall energy to finish strong, a thoughtful snack can make a huge difference in helping you achieve your fitness goals.

If loading up on snacks before a spin class, long run, or weight lifting session sounds like a recipe for a stomach ache, Bippen keeps her pre-workout snacks small but mighty. She suggests eating the following snacks within an hour of working out, and if you’re moving your body first thing in the morning, Bippen advises pairing a carb with a small amount of easily digestible protein or fat that will be light enough while still offering an energy boost.

Jess Bippen’s Favorite Pre-Workout Snacks

Peanut Butter Protein Bites

The great thing about this snack is that you can prep it up to several days in advance so that it’s ready to go as soon as you need it, whether that’s at 6 a.m. or during your afternoon commute from the office to your favorite fitness studio. Get her recipe here, or try our test kitchen’s take.

Loaded Toast

Bippen is a big fan of toast paired with a healthy fat for a pre-workout snack. Her favorite combos are almond and chia jam as well as avocado. So long as there’s a healthy fat and/or protein component, feel free to experiment!

Collagen Energy Bites

Another great pick that can be prepped for whenever you’re ready to fuel up, Bippen has several great recipes on her site in delicious flavors. While her Cashew Collagen Coconut Bites are Bippen’s go-to recipe, she also has Cacao Tahini and Lemon Cashew versions for whatever you’re in the mood for.

Fresh Fruit with Nut Butter and Seeds

We love this no-frills snack option that can be created with whatever you have in your fridge. Sliced apples paired with some almond butter and chia or hemp seeds is perfect for toting to the office or co-working space.

Hard-Boiled Eggs and Fresh Fruit

Eggs are full of healthy fats and hard-to-get vitamins and minerals, so this is an especially great pick for vegetarians. Pair with an equally portable fruit, like an orange or a pear, and you can bring your pre-workout snack anywhere it needs to go.

Nuts and Dried or Fresh Fruit

Trail mix will always have a place in our hearts, as it is versatile and offers a perfect balance of sweet and salty. Try pairing walnuts and dried prunes for a major longevity-booster or simply grab a handful of berries and almonds to help boost your mile time.

Organic Greek Yogurt and Fresh Fruit

This is a great pick for those who are pretty hungry pre-workout and may not have time to fuel up again for a while after some daily movement. Grab whatever fruit is fresh and in-season and you have a wholesome, satisfying snack.

Why We Should Snack Before Working Out

It's important to emphasize that Bippen is against fasted workouts (and intermittent fasting in general, especially for women in their reproductive years), as she says that this can actually contribute to hormone imbalances.

“High intensity workouts when paired with fasting can [cause] too much stress on the body,” Bippen says. “When the body is stressed, cortisol is elevated, and too much cortisol over time can shut down ovulation, elevate blood sugar, slow down digestion, and suppress thyroid hormones.”

Additionally, Bippen notes that pre-workout snacks, particularly in the morning, are especially important for coffee drinkers. If you simply can’t stomach a snack beforehand, she advises zhushing up your morning cuppa with collagen, a full-fat almond or cashew milk, and a sprinkle of cinnamon to help keep your blood sugar stabilized all day and amp up your beverage’s jolting power in a healthy way.

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