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10 Best Superfoods To Boost Your Energy & Maximize Your Workouts

If you're looking to get the most out of your workouts, look no further than these superfoods.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

We are all looking for ways to get through our day feeling more energized. Not only can this boost help you get more accomplished, but more energy also allows you to maximize your workouts. For this, many turn to sugary caffeinated drinks, leaving them with a crash a few hours later. Others choose supplements to boost energy before a workout, which can lead to jitters and a worrisome elevated heart rate. While caffeine can safely be used as a source of energy before a workout, you may get more out of using superfoods. In fact, we have 10 of the best superfoods to boost your energy and maximize your workouts.

While there is no medical definition for a superfood, they are generally thought to be nutrient-rich foods that promote health and well-being. There are quite a few foods that meet the "superfood" qualifications, but some may be especially beneficial when you're looking to get more out of your workouts. Generally, carbohydrates are good to have before exercise, as they are easy to digest and serve as the main source of energy during cardio-style exercise. This makes fruits, whole grains, and other complex carbs good pre-workout foods.

Other foods provide unique nutrients that can aid in muscle recovery and have anti-inflammatory properties. Foods that have a higher protein and fat content are great to combine with carb-dense foods before a lower heart rate workout, as they slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, allowing for more sustained energy. If you are looking for ways to get the most out of your workouts, look no further than these 10 superfoods to boost your energy, along with how to incorporate them into your pre-workout meal plan.


banana cinnamon oatmeal

First up on our list of the best superfoods to boost your energy is oatmeal. This whole grain is packed with fiber and is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates. With a small amount of protein and a wide range of B vitamins, oats make for a nutrient-dense, easy-to-digest pre-workout food. Top your oatmeal with cinnamon for another nutrient boost, and add nut butter for an additional superfood boost. Enjoy hot, make-ahead overnight oats, or simply enjoy muesli with dried fruit and milk for easy options.

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Sweet Potato

roasted sweet potatoes

This root vegetable is known for its bright orange flesh, which is also an excellent source of many nutrients. While being a source of carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins, sweet potato also packs potassium. This nutrient serves as an electrolyte essential to muscle contractions. Consume too little potassium, and you could end up with muscle cramps or spasms. Roast, bake, or steam your sweet potato for a versatile pre-workout meal.


halved avocados with pit

Although avocado is not a carb-dense food, it is loaded with important nutrients and can be a healthy source of fat before you exercise. Spread it on whole-grain toast, blend it into a fruit smoothie, or add a few slices to your sweet potato for some balanced pre-workout fuel. The fat avocado provides will allow for a slower release of sugar into your blood, creating stable energy. Avocado is a source of potassium and magnesium, which also aids in muscle contractions. Enjoy your avocado about an hour before you work out since it will take longer to digest.

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Peanut Butter

peanut butter and peanuts

Another source of healthy fats, peanut butter is a superfood that can help you get more out of your exercise. The protein and amino acids in peanut butter support your muscle tissue while also contributing to a slower release of carbohydrates into your bloodstream. The sustained energy you'll achieve from this will no doubt help power your workout. Spread peanut butter over whole grain toast, enjoy it with a banana, or serve it on a rice cake for well-balanced pre-workout snacks.


raspberries blackberries in a bowl

All berries are loaded with antioxidants, compounds that promote cell health. This helps make them a superfood, and their concentration of carbs makes them a great choice to enjoy before exercise. Easy-to-digest carbs, like that found in fruit, make for excellent workout fuel. Berries are also a source of fiber and offer so much versatility. Enjoy them in a fresh smoothie, sprinkle berries over your oatmeal, or simply eat a handful on your way to the gym.

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Beet Juice

beetroot juice

While perhaps not the most well-liked food on this list, beets are a great source of nutrients that can enhance your workouts. Beets are rich in nitrates that convert to nitric oxide in your body. This molecule can improve blood flow and enhance exercise performance. While you can enjoy a portion of roasted or pickled beets before exercising, you'll get a more concentrated source of these nutrients in beet juice or a powdered beet supplement.


cooked lentils

Another excellent source of energy-boosting carbohydrates, lentils provide plant-based protein to support muscle tissues. While they may not be an obvious choice to savor before exercise, they may help you get more out of your workouts. Along with protein and carbs, lentils provide an array of vitamins, electrolytes, and antioxidants. They also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with muscle recovery post-exercise. Enjoy them in a hearty soup, with rice and vegetables, or served in lettuce cups.


grilled salmon steak

Salmon is also an excellent source of muscle-benefitting protein; it contains omega-3 fat that offers anti-inflammatory properties. The healthy fats and protein in salmon can promote sustained energy during your workout, while the omega-3 fats aid in muscle recovery. Because of the fat and protein content, it's best to eat salmon at least an hour before you work out. Pair your fish with an easy-to-digest carb, like rice or potato, for balanced fuel.

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scrambled eggs

Eggs are an all-around nutrient powerhouse and a good source of high-quality protein. Extensive research has shown that eggs do not increase your heart disease risk, so you can feel confident choosing the whole egg for maximizing workouts and nutrition. Eating high-quality protein, like eggs, in combination with carbohydrates post-workout can help refuel muscles and optimize recovery so you're ready to go for your next sweat session. Endlessly versatile and incredibly convenient, eggs can be enjoyed at any time of day. Serve them scrambled, boiled, or lightly fried with your favorite carbs like toast, fruit, or oatmeal for ideal fueling options.


oat milk and oats

The last of these superfoods to boost your energy is milk. With so many varieties of "milk" on the market today, traditional dairy milk is a superfood that may also help maximize your workouts. Milk contains natural carbs, fat, and protein in an easy-to-digest form. Additionally, milk is a source of potassium and magnesium that support muscle contractions. The balanced blend of macronutrients and digestible milk makes a great workout fuel. Enjoy a glass of milk on its own, pair it with a fruit, or incorporate it into your oatmeal.

Kelsey Hampton, MS, CSSD, RDN, LD
Kelsey is a Texas-based dietitian and professor who specializes in sports nutrition. Read more about Kelsey
Sources referenced in this article
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