Exercising on an empty stomach can hinder your workouts and may even leave your body looking to its own muscle for fuel. If you’re having a hard time making it through your workouts, or are finding yourself feeling tired and worn down afterwards, you may be lacking in the fuel you need to get you through a challenging workout and recovery time. Eating a balanced snack of protein and carbs an hour or so before you workout can make a huge difference in your performance.

These 8 great pre-workout fuels will help prepare your body for a challenging workout no matter what time of day you’re hitting the gym.

1. Protein Bars: Although there are many good protein bars on the market, be sure to be on the look out for the candy bars masking themselves as health food. A good protein bar should have no more than 200 calories, at least 5 grams of protein and around 25 grams of carbs. Team Skinny Mom loves Quest Bars! (photo credit)

2. Smoothies: These can be a great pre-workout fuel, especially since you have complete control of what goes in.  Instead of low-fat yogurt, add more protein by trying fat-free plain Greek yogurt. Add in rolled oats for fiber and coconut water for potassium and electrolytes. Check out our favorite smoothie recipes!

3. Bananas: One medium banana has only 150 calories and is packed with potassium to keep your muscles going strong and you well hydrated. Add some fat-free plain Greek yogurt for protein and you have a great pre-workout snack!

4. Whole Grain Bread: Choose high fiber, high protein varieties like Ezekial 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Bread. Each slice boasts 4 grams of protein! Top with a chopped hard boiled egg for added high quality protein or honey to satisfy your sweet tooth!

5. Veggie Omelet: I myself am an egg white fan, but whole eggs are fine too! Combine one egg (or two egg whites) with veggies of your choice. Use cooking spray to cut down on the calories and combine with fruit or whole wheat toast for your carbohydrates. (photo credit here)

6. Half a Sandwich: If you’re working out mid-day, a half sandwich can be a great and easy go-to pre-workout snack. Start with one slice of whole wheat bread and add turkey or another lean meat with veggies. Use hummus as a sandwich spread for low-fat and delicious added protein.

7. Quinoa and Fruit: Have leftover quinoa from last night’s dinner? Combine a half cup of quinoa with plain almond milk or skim milk and fruit, heat for 45 seconds in the microwave and enjoy a high-protein, high-fiber, low-fat and economical pre-workout snack! (photo credit here)

8. Apple Slices and Nut Butter: Top slices of one apple with a tablespoon of your favorite peanut or almond butter. With carbs and filling fiber from the apple and protein and satisfying flavor from the nut butter, this is one great and easy pre-workout fuel.

Now that you have your pre-workkout fuels ready to power your sweat sesh, check out the Skinny Mom Fitness Index of workouts and get moving!