Naughty & nice pre-workouts for the holidays

Here are the pre-workouts and snacks you’ll need after a late night, and for when life gets back to normal post-holidays. By sports nutritionist Gabrielle Maston.

Don’t let the end-of-year party season get in the way of your muscle and fitness gains. Use these naughty pre-workout snacks to keep your training on track while feeling the festive vibes, and when party season is over, switch to wholesome, healthy snacks for a kick start to the beach season.

For the naughty season

Iced coffee milkshake

If you’ve had a few sleepless nights out on the town and have skipped a few meals, whip up this indulgent high-protein milkshake 30 minutes before your next workout. Simply blend together a scoop of regular whey protein powder, milk, an espresso shot, ice and a dollop of vanilla Greek yoghurt. Hey presto — you’ve just made your own pre-workout energy drink that will give you the boost you need to power through your workout.


It’s not a good idea to get hooked on these products long term, but using them when you need to (like the day after the work Christmas party) will help you power through a workout. Brands like OxyShred, Obliter8 and NO-Xplode contain caffeine that will give you the energy you need to get through your cardio workout without any added calories. It’s perfect for those looking to get lean for lazy days at the beach.

Rehydrating powders and drinks

Alcohol dehydrates you, which can affect your lifting and cardio performance, cause headaches and leave you feeling lethargic and dizzy. Electrolyte drinks are the quickest way to rehydrate because they contain the perfect mix of salts and water.

If you’re trying to lean up, sugar-free products like Endura Rehydration Low Carb Fuel and Powerade Zero are the perfect supplements to rehydrate both before and during a workout.

For those doing long duration cardio sets like running, football or basketball you may want something with a few more carbs. Powerade and Gatorade are rehydrating drinks that also replenish glycogen stores —perfect for those who need a quick snack before long and strenuous cardio training.

Party snacks

We all know how difficult it is to make healthy choices when in the company of others, and it’s even harder during the silly season. With all the parties and gatherings, how often can you say no? Thankfully there are always healthy options to choose at the buffet table. Next time you’re at a dinner party look for the supposedly naughty snacks that are secretly the better option. Go for chocolate coated strawberries, roasted nuts, olives, stuffed tomatoes, popcorn, fruit salad and ham with cheese. If you dine at suave places, fancy entrees like smoked salmon, caviar and prosciutto are all high in protein, making them an expensive but pretty much perfect pre-workout snack.

For the nice season

Swap supplements for whole foods

Come January it’s time to stop relying on pre-workout stimulants to get you by. Slow down and look for whole foods that can give you a wider variety of nutrients. Many whole foods can easily replace some of the most popular supplements on the market. Try swapping your pre-workout protein shake for 125g tuna and wholegrain crackers, your creatine powder for 150g red meat and your pre-workout stimulants for a cup of coffee. You can feel good knowing you’re giving your kidneys and liver a rest from processing so many powders.

Swap out your sweets

Let’s hope that by the time you reach New Year’s Day, you’re all caked out. The sugar overload we experience from choosing naughty foods too often can lead to sweet cravings well after party season is over. It’s hard to lose weight if you’re overindulging on sweets every day of the week. Consider swapping processed sweets with an equally sweet dessert like fruit and natural Greek yoghurt, which has the added benefit of being packed full of fibre, slow releasing carbs and protein, which makes it perfect for before a gym session too. A trail mix with dried fruit and nuts can feel indulgent too.

Black coffee

For a pre-workout energy boost without the added calories, drink your coffee black. It will give you the same energy boost as a skinny soy latte at a fraction of the cost. Milky drinks can add calories to your diet plan if you don’t account for them. Switching to a black coffee means that you save your calories for more wholesome snacks, like a chicken and salad wholegrain wrap or a delicious fruit smoothie.

Take your own vegetable platter

Let’s not pretend that January is free of social events — it is the holidays after all! Take control of your food environment by offering to bring your own vegetable platter to the BBQ. Pack a tray overflowing with chopped carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and celery, and don’t skimp on the dip! Hummus, salsa, peanut butter and cottage cheese are all healthy options you can chow down on without the guilt. Just don’t forget to share it with your mates!