You’ve been hitting the gym for some time. You’re making it part of your regular routine and putting in the hours; always trying to bust out the right number of reps. But after all that work, you don’t feel like you’re maximizing your workout due to a lack of energy. Sometimes you find your energy lacking and wondering why you can’t run as far or lift as much as you usually do. It could all come down to your diet.

Nutrition is important for every aspect of our lives. Exercising and eating well go hand-in-hand for living a well-balanced life, but some gym-goers aren’t getting the nutrients they need to crush their goals in the gym. While they may find themselves drinking protein-packed smoothies after their workouts, they’re not providing their bodies with the necessary fuel beforehand to maximize all the energy they’re spending.

It’s time to put a little more thought into what you eat before working out so you can reach your goals faster and feel healthier in and out of the gym. It won’t take much effort, and the results will be well worth it. Here are five great pre-workout foods to help you boost your energy before a workout.

1. Oatmeal

Filled with complex carbohydrates to deliver slow-release energy, oatmeal is an unsung hero when it comes to pre-workout foods. Incredibly easy to make (just add hot water!) and inexpensive, make this breakfast classic one of your go-tos whenever you’re ready to hit the gym.

Pro tip: for an even greater extra energy boost, add in some protein power or a Tbsp of almond butter to your oatmeal.

And if you’re just not an oatmeal person, give this tasty recipe a chance to change your mind. Check out our Overnight Oats for a new take on an old classic.

2. Greek Yogurt

Greek Yogurt has exploded in popularity over the past few years — and for good reason. Besides being loaded with probiotics, helping keep your weight in check, and strengthening your bones with calcium and Vitamin D, Greek Yogurt is also an ideal pre-workout food.

Carbs provide that extra energy you need for your workouts and Greek Yogurt is loaded with them. Not only that, but you’ll find a healthy amount of muscle-building protein to help you blast through a run or weightlifting session. Another awesome benefit is that Greek Yogurt can stave off hunger, which is perfect for when you’re in the middle of a long workout.

3. Protein Balls

You’ll have to spend a little time in the kitchen (very little), but having some homemade protein balls on-hand before hitting the gym is well worth it. Not only do they taste great, but they’re far cheaper than buying protein bars and are perfect highly-customizable snacks. After mixing in some protein powder, feel free to add in natural peanut butter, raw honey, coconut, oats, cranberries, cinnamon, or whatever combination you prefer.

4. Blueberries

Having the right kind of sugar can help you excel in the gym. No, this is not an excuse to chow down on your favorite candy bar – you’re looking for the natural kind of sugar! Reach for a handful of blueberries for a sweet pre-workout snack. What makes these tiny fruits so effective for exercising is that they’re a complex carb, which helps provide sustained energy for the gym.

Another benefit of blueberries is that they’re known to improve brain function. Besides giving your memory a boost, they’ll also enhance your focus — perfect for keeping you on top of your game and staying in the zone when working out.

And if you’re wanting to start your morning off before heading to the gym, check out awesome Blueberry Banana Protein Shake.

5. Almond Butter

Simple. Nutritious. And oh so tasty. Almond Butter is rich in calcium, protein, and filled with the good kinds of fat. While it’s nutritionally comparable to peanut butter, almond butter is packed with even higher amounts of Vitamin E and iron, helping make the higher price tag a little easier to stomach.

For a healthy, energy-boosting pre-workout snack, all you have to do is spread some almond butter on a few apple slices, celery sticks, or try adding a Tbsp into a smoothie. And if you have a little more time, check out our delicious almond butter stuffed french toast for a delicious pre-or-post workout meal.

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