You could have your full fitness gear ready, a paid gym subscription, and enough time to get a good workout done, but you might be lacking one essential thing - energy. Even when you’re highly motivated and excited about working out, sometimes you can’t find enough energy in your body to actually do it, or you find yourself stopping mid-session because you’ve suddenly run out of energy. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one, and even better: you can change that!
Whether you find it hard to get through a workout because you’re a beginner or get tired from your daily life, or you just want an extra push to make more progress in your next session, there are several natural energy boosters for working out that you can choose from.
We’ll guide you through the best options that you can try while explaining how they work and why you should consider them if you want to improve your performance and keep your body running efficiently during each workout. So let’s get started!
When it comes to getting a good pre-workout energy boost, caffeine is usually the go-to for many!
A good cup of black coffee can go a long way when you’re trying to get pumped for your next session because caffeine is a fast-acting stimulant that helps increase alertness by triggering the adrenaline hormone. It also suppresses the effects of adenosine on your body, a chemical that makes you feel sleepy and builds up throughout the day, essentially blocking you from feeling tired for a while.
This is what makes coffee such a popular morning drink, but you need to be careful with how much you consume! A regular cup of coffee contains almost 100 g of caffeine, which is 1/4 of the daily amount that’s safe for adults (400 g). Going over the recommended amount could increase your heart rate and leave you feeling jittery and anxious, which you definitely want to avoid before a workout. So try to keep your caffeine consumption at a healthy level so you can reap the energy benefits when you need it!
Unfortunately, a lot of people can’t consume caffeine at all or can only have it in small amounts because of pregnancy or different health issues, or even as a personal decision. This means that coffee is usually out of the question when considering which natural energy booster to try before a workout. But don’t worry! If that’s you, we have many more low-caffeine and caffeine-free options that you can try instead. So just continue reading!
For a low-caffeine drink that can still give you an energy boost, look no further than green tea! This delicious drink is loaded with antioxidants, making it a healthier option than coffee, but even better, green tea is a great source of natural energy thanks to its killer caffeine + L-theanine combo.
L-theanine is an amino acid that slows down the absorption of caffeine, allowing your body to process and benefit from the caffeine more effectively. This helps improve your alertness and increases the duration of your energy, and because the caffeine in green tea is absorbed more slowly than the caffeine in coffee, you don’t need to worry about getting jittery after. Plus, a cup of green tea contains less than half the amount of caffeine that’s in a cup of black coffee, but it’s still enough to give you an energy boost!
You can also drink green tea in the form of matcha, which comes from the same plant and has the same components, but it’s more concentrated and comes in powder form. All you need to do is mix it with some water or add it to your pre-workout smoothie and you’ll have a delicious energy-boosting drink to get ready for your workout!
When it comes to supplements, BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) are one of the best things in the market that you can take to significantly improve your performance at the gym. On top of supporting your muscle-building efforts, they give you an energy boost so you can crush your workouts like a champ.
BCAAs contain three of the nine essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) that your body needs but can’t make by itself, so you need to get them from food sources and supplements. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and these three amino acids are the main ones involved in muscle protein synthesis, meaning that they help prevent muscle breakdown and fatigue. But that’s not all!
These three essential amino acids help preserve muscle glycogen stores, which is your body’s primary fuel source when it needs energy. This means that BCAAs directly help your body save more energy and use it when it needs it the most - during exercise! They provide you with reliable sustained energy during your workouts and help you stay invigorated and focused throughout your whole routine, turning them into a well-rounded natural energy booster without caffeine that you could benefit from next time you go to the gym.
Increasing in popularity by the second, super greens (also known as greens powders) are an effective option for a pre-workout energy boost!
These powders are usually made by crushing dried fruits and leafy greens, as well as other vegetables and herbs, aiming to enhance your vitamin and nutrient intake and support any deficiency that you might have from your usual diet. Most green powders share the same nutritious ingredients, often referred to as “superfoods”, with some of them even containing probiotics or digestive enzymes for additional gut health support!
Kale and spinach are two common ingredients in a super greens powder. Both are highly rich in iron and can help those with iron deficiencies to feel less fatigued, increasing their energy in the process. Other super greens contain green tea extract, which as you now know contains caffeine and L-theanine, giving you a boost of much-needed energy before any workout. Some, like 373 Lab Super Greens, contain a blend of adaptogenic mushrooms that helps increase power and endurance. It does this by helping improve oxygen utilization and work capacity while decreasing lactate. This helps athletes, lifters, and gym-goers train harder for longer!
Super greens can be mixed with water alone or added to any smoothie, just like matcha, to get more flavors and an extra punch of nutrients and other energy-boosting ingredients in the mix! It’s the perfect alternative for those who don’t take pre-workout supplements and want to stay away from energy drinks and coffee.
Just like all other vitamins, vitamin B12 plays several roles to keep your body in tip-top shape, from DNA synthesis to blood cell formation, but it also contributes to energy production! This vitamin, along with other B vitamins, helps turn the food that you eat into glucose, which is then used by your body as its primary energy fuel. The thing about vitamin B12 is that it helps absorb and store energy for your body, but it doesn’t act as a stimulant, it just helps your body function normally.
So, do you really need a vitamin B12 supplement?
Not necessarily, unless you have a deficiency. But there’s a catch! Vitamin B12 is only found in animal sources, which means that if you follow a vegan or a vegetarian diet, you might have a deficiency without even being aware of it! Even if you eat products that come from animals, such as eggs and dairy, vitamin B12 is only found in small amounts in these foods. In contrast, animal meats such as poultry and fish are rich in this vitamin.
A vitamin B12 deficiency makes you feel dizzy, fatigued, and generally more exhausted and weak, which is not what you need when you’re an active person. It’s also directly tied to dopamine and serotonin synthesis, which are neurotransmitters that regulate your mood and emotions, two key factors that have an impact on your overall energy levels. When the deficiency persists, it can cause anemia, nerve damage, and heart disease, so it’s essential to keep those levels healthy in your body. Even meat-eaters can be deficient if they don’t eat enough of this vitamin, which is why it’s important to pay close attention to your diet. And if you’re vegan, consider eating vegan options that are fortified with vitamin B12, or a supplement!
Boosting your energy before a workout is not always about taking a supplement or drinking something - whole foods are also a great source of energy! Bananas, for example, are a delicious source of carbohydrates. You need carbs so that your body can turn it into glucose and use it for energy, so having some healthy carbs before your workout can help you get super pumped!
Bananas are high in sugar, but the difference between the sugar in a banana and regular table sugar is that bananas get digested more slowly, on top of being packed with fiber and necessary nutrients. It takes more time for your body to get to the sugar in the banana and digest it, helping you avoid those sugar crashes associated with regular white sugar.
Whether you choose to eat it by itself, mix it in a bowl with other fruits such as apples and watermelon, or turn it into a smoothie, bananas are a quick energy-boosting snack for your workouts!
Complex carbs full of fiber and nutrients, whole-grain and gluten-free - oatmeal really does have everything! A bowl of oatmeal in the morning can give you enough energy to get through the day without issues, but you can also eat some oatmeal about 1-2 hours before your workouts for an extra boost of energy.
Since it gets digested very slowly, oatmeal provides you with sustained long-lasting energy instead of a sudden rush all at once. It also helps stabilize your blood sugar during your workout thanks to its fiber content and lower glycemic index, so you don’t have to worry about blood sugar spikes or crashes while you exercise.
If you want to reap the most benefits possible, add some nut butter to your oatmeal for an extra boost of energy and nutrients! Nut butters are packed with carbs, protein, and fiber, particularly almond butter, which is very rich in vitamins and minerals and can provide you with even more energy for your workouts. Plus, it’s great for lean muscle growth thanks to its protein content, so it’s a win-win!
Aside from meats, eggs are considered the king of protein when it comes to pre-workout foods. On top of the high protein content, eggs contain tons of vitamins and healthy fats that keep you energized throughout the day. And not only that, but they also contain all three BCAAs that we mentioned earlier, meaning that eggs help preserve the energy in your body and use it more effectively!
But why hard-boiled?
Well, because the way that hard-boiled eggs are cooked helps preserve the nutrients better than other types of cooked eggs. Aside from that, hard-boiled eggs are so much more convenient! You can boil a bunch of eggs, eat one or two before your workout and then refrigerate the rest for later. They’re delicious, easy to make, can be paired with your favorite veggies or some hummus, and the most important thing - they’re highly nutritious and provide you with energy!
Your favorite music
Okay, we know this one is a little bit different from the rest, but who doesn’t get pumped when listening to their favorite tracks?
While it’s true that boosting your energy with foods and supplements is highly effective, sometimes energy has more to do with your mood! Just like you get more energetic when cleaning your house or cooking if you play some music, the same happens when working out. Listening to fun songs with a fast tempo before (and during) a workout will get you excited enough to get through it with high spirits. Whether it’s the latest pop album that you downloaded or some oldies that you really enjoy, music has the power to get you up and going in no time, so never underestimate a good tune!
These are all great solutions if you’re looking to increase your energy during your workouts, so keep them in mind the next time you hit the gym for improved performance. Whether you choose a natural energy supplement or a food or drink that boosts your energy, don’t forget to do it in moderation.
And always remember that a big part of having enough energy is eating a well-balanced diet that mainly consists of whole foods and drinking lots and lots of water. Dehydration can leave you feeling dizzy and exhausted, so you’ll want to avoid that at all times!