What Are Some Energy Foods for Sports?

By Kate Evelyn

No matter what your sport, be it golf, distance running or sumo wrestling, you need sufficient energy to perform well. Instead of relying on energy shots, pills or drinks immediately before you work out, a better thing to do is get your energy from the food you ate the day before. Stay away from sugary foods that lack nutrients, like candy and processed cookies. They can give you a quick boost only to cause you to crash later. Instead, go for wholesome foods that will keep you going all day.

Whole Grains

Whole grains contain energy producing carbohydrates. Most are also rich in the B vitamin complex, which can help with vitality. Dine on whole grain pasta or rice the night before a big athletic event. This is known as carbo-loading. Start your day with a bowl of whole grain cereal or oatmeal. Do not eat a huge breakfast since you don't want the food sitting in your stomach for too long.


Bananas contain fructose, which can provide energy, and fiber that helps you feel full. They also have potassium, which can not only make you feel more alert but can also guard your muscles against fatigue. A lot of athletes swear by eating a banana each morning, and they are often present at the end of endurance events. Since a banana is a light snack that you can digest easily, you can eat one immediately before a big tournament.

Low-Fat Snack Foods

If you need a pick-me-up right before your workout, it's okay to have a light snack. Avoid greasy fried foods that are laden in fat, or else you will feel tired and sluggish. Instead, go for filling foods that are high in fiber. Some examples are chicken noodle soup, fruit smoothies made with soy milk, sports bars such as Clif bars, nuts, and wheat toast with peanut butter.


Drinking a cup of black coffee about 1 hour before exercise can make you more alert and can help your endurance. It is preferable to drinking soda because it does not have the high sugar content. However, since caffeine is a diuretic, drinking too much coffee can lead to dehydration.


Water is arguably the most important thing to eat or drink before and during exercise. It can replenish the body of fluids lost due to heavy sweating, which can keep your body going. If you plan to exercise at a moderate level for more than 45 minutes at a time, you may find yourself tiring due to losing electrolytes. At this point, it is okay to consume an 8-oz. sports drink.

About The Author

Based in Washington, D.C., Kate Evelyn has been writing professionally since 2000. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including "Elle" magazine, "Brass|CU" magazine and the "Credit Union Times." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Western Maryland College.

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