Montage of keeping fit

A fitness expert reviews 5 different ways of getting energy before a workout

In partnership with Flahavan's

Posted by for Workouts

From a banging playlist to get you through that extra rep to all the equipment you need being free at the right time, there are a lot of variables that go into a good workout.

But one undeniable factor in whether or not you smash it is your energy levels, because as many of us will have experienced, sluggishness plus trying to sprint or lift something heavy isn’t a winning combination.

With so many products and fuels touted as the best way to get a pre-workout boost, it can be difficult to know what works and what doesn’t. 

We asked Olympic gold medalist and PT Amy Williams for her thoughts on some of the most common energy recommendations…

  • 1. Pre-workout drinks

    From TikTokers dry scooping it, to gym regulars having the trusty neon pink concoction by their side, pre-workout drinks are commonly seen as the best way to get a quick energy hit.

    But does it actually stand up?

    “So much depends of what type or kind of workout or session you are about to do, the length of time it will take, what goal you want to achieve, your fitness levels and how your individual body will react,” explains Williams. 

    “Most pre-workout supplements are mixed with a drink and taken around 30 minutes before the beginning of a workout. 

    “That’s because by supplying your body with extra carbohydrates pre-workout, the glucose helps raise blood sugar levels and supply additional energy during a workout.

    “The benefits of taking a pre-workout supplement are to increase performance by both increasing energy and delaying fatigue so you can hit your goals. 

    “They can be helpful for both anaerobic training such as weightlifting, sprinting and resistant training and aerobic training like running, swimming or cycling.

    “Things like oats are slow release whereas caffeine gives you a quick burst and will raise your heart rate, so great for giving you a boost in a workout. 

    “I would never try out anything before a race for the first time.

    “Always test out any products in training several times to see how you react.”

  • 2. Oats

    A warm bowl of porridge is a popular choice ahead of a big workout day, and it turns out that’s with good reason.

    “If you don’t fuel your body properly before exercises or hard workouts, you’ll be less energised, weaker and will fatigue faster than normal,” says Williams.

    “Porridge is perfect for a healthy start into the day and also contributes to a balanced diet. 

    Oats are a really good form of carbohydrates which supply the body with the energy it needs. 

    “Oats are digested slowly which is why it’s a great idea to eat them before workouts. You will experience a longer period of their energising benefits.”

    For an easy, zesty and tasty breakfast that will give you a slow release of energy, try whipping up some mango, lime and coconut porridge.

    First make your topping by toasting 10 grams of desiccated coconut in a medium dry frying pan, on a medium heat until lightly golden and set aside.

    Next, peel and cut half a mango into small cubes, zest and then juice half a lime and combine it together.

    To make your porridge add 50 grams of Flahavan’s Organic Porridge Oats to 150 millilitres of whole or plant-based milk and 90 millilitres of water in a saucepan and simmer on a low heat for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats have softened and thickened. 

    Finally, spoon the mango and lime onto your hot porridge, then top with a sprinkle of toasted coconut.

  • 3. Coffee

    “Coffee is the easy and simple way to reduce tiredness and get a little boost in terms of alertness and energy,” says Williams, “but be aware that too much can upset your tummy. Not good if you’re on a run! 

    “Caffeine is found in most fat-burning supplements due to its great natural ability to burn fat. 

    “I was recently in Portugal running a training week and every morning I’d have my Portuguese coffee. 

    “That would be enough to power me though until I was a bit more with it.”

    If you’re a real coffee fiend but don’t fancy shotting an espresso before your workout, try adding a hint to your breakfast with a tasty recipe like Espresso, Peanut and Chocolate Overnight Oats with Caramelised Banana.

  • 4. Sugary snacks

    Sugary sweet Rice Krispies treats might be all the rage at the moment when it comes to getting a lift before you lift, but Williams isn’t as convinced.

    “I try to avoid off-the-shelf sugary snacks if I can,” she says.

    “If I know what’s in it, I know how to use it. So why not make your own boost/protein/oat balls? 

    “Chuck in a load of oats, honey, peanut butter, raisins, and other dried fruit, chocolate chips, coconut, and protein powder - basically anything! 

    “If they get too dry add a drop of milk to it. Roll up and then you can store in the freezer or fridge. It’s my go-to when I need a hit.”

  • 5. Empty stomach

    One of the biggest debates amongst fitness fans is whether it’s better to workout on an empty stomach and eat afterwards, or if you need to fuel up first to get the most of your session.

    “The bottom line is to always eat well and eat normal food when possible,” says Williams, an ambassador for Four Seasons Fairway.

    “Your body needs energy to work and if you’re running on empty you are not fuelling the body.”

    “Working out on an empty stomach is normally known as fasted cardio. 

    “The theory is that your body feeds on stored fat and carbs for energy leading to higher levels of fat loss. 

    “Because your blood sugar level is low after not eating all night, the glucose reserve that your body needs to burn for fuel is also very low.

    “However, exercising in this way may not always be beneficial for all athletes. 

    “You may not have the energy necessary for a high-intensity workout, and so your body starts using the content of muscle mass to take stored energy fuel. 

    “Not great for those want to bulk up or gain muscle and strength.”

Fuel your body for a great workout with Flahavan’s Organic Oats. The range is naturally creamy, contains no added sugar and is packaged in a 100% recyclable bag. Naturally low in salt and saturated fat, the oats are a delicious source of wholegrain, protein and fibre, and provide slow-release energy that will keep you going. The Flahavan’s range can be found in all major supermarkets including Waitrose, Ocado, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and ASDA.

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