But the actual best thing to eat before a workout is a whole lot more delicious. It might even be something you'd consider a treat.
And that treat is a Rice Krispies one. Almost.
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When working on The Everyday Athlete Cookbook, we collaborated with nutritionist Alicia A. Romano to hunt for the best pre-workout boost before you exercise. She taught us that you want a balanced (but slightly sugary) treat to give you that extra kick of energy from a quick-digesting carb.
While we were developing recipes, a TikTok trend highlighted that workout influencers sometimes eat a Rice Krispies Treat just before exercising.
So we asked Alicia about it—is it more than just a craze? It turns out, the TikTokers are onto something. Because Rice Krispies Treats are high in carbs and low in protein and fat, they become a readily available fuel source in the body during a workout.
The Everyday AthleteIn conjunction with clinical dietician and nutritionist Alicia Romano, we developed recipes to give you energy and endurance for the activities you love.
And this was a great jumping off point. But we knew we could improve on them for a nourishing take on this beloved classic.
But no, that doesn’t mean “health-ifying” them. In fact, we didn’t work to cut out the sugary component at all—it’s actually a key reason why it’s such a great workout snack. When used correctly, sugar = energy. Instead, we kept the helpful sugar while enhancing the nutritional benefits of our bars.
This recipe only takes 20 minutes of active cooking to make 12 delicious bars. Learn what makes our version so good and then try it for yourself.
1. We Skipped the Marshmallows
Instead of marshmallows, which add sugar but nothing else, we use a combination of nut butter, brown sugar, and honey as the “glue” that holds the bars together. This is essential in fast-acting fuel 30 to 60 minutes before working out.
2. We Amped Up the Nutritional Value
The addition of nut butter added small amounts of beneficial protein, fiber, and fat. These work to slow the digestion of the bar (just slightly) to keep you fueled longer.
3. We Didn’t Skimp on Flavor
We included vanilla and cinnamon to give the bars a baked good-like flavor and toasty color. These flavorful additions brought a craveable warmth without unnecessary additives.
Honey-Nut Crispy Rice Cereal Bars
Yield: Serves: 12 (makes 12 bars)
Total Time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour cooling
When to Eat: Pre-Workout 30 to 60 minutes before
We prefer unsweetened, natural almond or peanut butter (smooth or chunky) in this recipe, but any style of nut butter can be used. This recipe can easily be doubled using a 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
- 3⁄4 cup almond or peanut butter
- 1⁄2 cup honey
- 1⁄2 cup packed (31⁄2 ounces) brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄4 teaspoon table salt
- 5 cups (5 ounces) crisped rice cereal
1. Combine almond butter, honey, and sugar in Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, until sugar has melted and mixture is smooth and just beginning to simmer, about 2 minutes. Off heat, whisk in vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Using lightly greased rubber spatula, stir in rice cereal until well combined.
2. Transfer cereal mixture to greased 8-inch square baking pan and spread into even layer. Using lightly greased bottom of dry measuring cup, press firmly on mixture, especially at edges and corners, until level and very compact. Let cool completely, about 1 hour.
3. Run knife around the edge of pan to loosen cereal mixture, then turn out onto cutting board. Cut mixture in half, then cut each half crosswise into 6 pieces. Serve. (Bars can be stored at room temperature in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.)