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7 Best Fast-Digesting Carbs That Will Boost Your Workout

Fueling your body with the right carbs can be a game-changer for your fitness.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

If you've ever felt sluggish, tired, or unenergetic during your workouts, the issue may lie in your pre-exercise fuel. Carbohydrates, an umbrella term including sugar, fruits, vegetables, fibers, and legumes, are your body's main source of quick energy, and selecting the right ones can make all the difference in your training sessions. But with the abundance of conflicting nutrition advice online, how do you know which fast-digesting carbs are best to eat before a workout? Fortunately, we have you covered. We spoke with Destini Moody, RDN, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian and sports dietitian with Garage Gym Reviews, who breaks down the top fast-digesting carbs to eat before a workout; they can provide an immediate fuel source for your muscles and take your fitness game to the next level.

"Fast-digesting carbs have little to no fiber," states Moody. "Given that fiber doesn't break down in the digestive system, it slows the rate of digestion. While fiber is normally a health-promoting food, it can get in the way when you need the glucose from your carbohydrates to be available to fuel your exercise."

Regardless of your fitness level, research shows the foods you consume before exercise play a crucial role in your performance, endurance, and results. Research also reveals that consuming carbs before training can boost your performance. If you're not convinced yet, keep reading to find out which fast-digesting carbs are best to eat before a workout and why you should include them in your pre-workout routine. And when you're done, check out Adopt This 30-Day 'Healthy Habits' Challenge for a Full-Body Transformation.

White Toast with Jam

toast with jam

Starting your day with a classic like white toast and jam can be a quick and delicious way to fuel up before a workout. The simple carbs in white bread digest quickly, providing fast energy, while the natural sugars in jam add a touch of sweetness for an extra boost.

"Tasty and easy to prepare and consume, white toast has less fiber than whole wheat toast. Additionally, the jam provides some sugar from both added sources, and the fruit is made from," says Moody.

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Sports Drinks

Sports drink

Sports beverages are go-to pre-workout fuel for athletes because they're designed to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes during exercise. A 2018 study found that the fast-digesting sugars in functional sports drinks can improve athletic performance, hydration, and recovery.

"Though people who don't understand the needs of athletes often criticize the sugar content of sports drinks, it's there for a good reason," explains Moody. "Those who formulate sports drinks know how important fast fuel like sugar and electrolytes are to athletic performance. Since sports drinks contain both, they're great for pre-workout because they do the double duty of providing both fuel and hydration in the form of fluids and electrolytes."

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banana cluster

Bananas are nature's energy bars, rich in fast-digesting carbs, especially natural sugars like fructose and glucose. They're also an excellent source of potassium, which helps prevent cramping during workouts.

"The amazing thing about bananas is they're durable little guys, meaning they can be easily made portable by being thrown into gym bags or left in your car for some last-minute fuel … it's a great, healthy pre-workout snack," says Moody.



If you prefer a spoon over a fork, applesauce may be your go-to pre-workout fuel. It's smooth, easy to eat, and packed with fast-digesting carbs to boost your performance during workouts.

Moody tells us, "Like bananas, applesauce is a healthy carb that may seem like it's for children, but I've used it with many professional athletes because applesauce is affordable and packed with natural sugars for fuel. You can even buy pouches of applesauce that work like a juice box, which is great for when you're on the go or if you're an athlete who wears gear that removes the dexterity you need to wrestle with foil seals."

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Orange Juice

orange juice and oranges

A glass of fresh orange juice offers more than just vitamin C. It also delivers a burst of fast-acting carbs to fuel your body for exercise.

"Orange juice is my go-to recommendation for people who cannot eat a full meal or even solid food before those early morning workouts," states Moody. "Orange juice not only has tons of natural sugar for fast fuel, but you can get those sweet carbs super quickly in just a few gulps."

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Low-fiber Granola Bars

fruit nut granola bar

While some granola bars can be high in fiber, certain low-fiber options are designed for quick energy. Look for bars with simple ingredients and minimal fiber content, which make for a perfect on-the-go pre-workout snack.

"Unlike applesauce and sports beverages, low-fiber granola bars are fantastic for those who need to sink their teeth into something before they get their sweat on. Just make sure there aren't any added fibers, nuts, or seeds, as these can slow digestion and hinder your performance during workouts," Moody explains.

Fruit Snacks

glass bowl of fruit snacks

Fruit snacks are chewy treats containing sugars that the body can quickly convert into fuel. They're convenient, easy to carry, and taste like candy, making them a sweet pre-workout indulgence.

"Not feeling a piece of fruit before your workout? No problem! Go back to your childhood with this nostalgic pre-workout snack. Try to find some made from real fruit so you can get some vitamin C and less artificial flavors," says Moody.

Adam Meyer
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more about Adam
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