The food you eat before and after your workout serve as fuel to your body, boosting your performance and supplying the right nutrients for building and repairing muscles. That’s why it’s important to pay close attention to selecting the right food to keep you energized and ready for intense training before a workout and replenish lost energy, water, and nutrients after exercise.

In this post, you’ll learn the food you should eat before and after a workout, which serves as a guide so you can make sound health and fitness decisions.  

What to Eat Before Workout

If you have not eaten recently, your body needs 100 to 200 calories within 30 to 60 minutes before your workout so that you are physically and mentally prepared. However, you need to wait at least two hours if you have just eaten a meal before engaging in heavy exercise. 

For a cardio workout, you need a snack with high carbohydrates, moderate protein, and low fat. If you’re planning to do strength training instead, your snack should have higher protein, moderate carbohydrates, and low fat. 

Here are some examples of food that you can eat before a workout:

  • Oatmeal with Fruits and Low-fat Milk: A bowl of high-fiber oatmeal with fruits (blueberries, raspberries, apple, banana, and blackberries) and low-fat milk is a great way to start your day if you workout in the morning. Because the body digests the carbohydrates in this breakfast combo more slowly, the blood sugar remains steadier, which means that you feel more energized for longer. The low-fat milk content also adds extra calcium for proper bone growth and development and protein dose.
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches give you the right amount of carbohydrates to rev up your energy levels. Peanut butter and jelly are also rich protein sources that fend off cravings and binges as they make you feel full. If you’re planning to jog or take a yoga class, all you need is to eat half a sandwich, along with the best dietary supplements from Steel supplements

 

  • Fruit and Yogurt Shake: Fruit and yogurt shake make an excellent treat while increasing your energy levels to avoid feeling sluggish during a workout. In a blender or fruit smoothie maker, you can whip your own fruit and yogurt recipe, add some ice, and boost your carbs while sipping it before a workout. 

 

What to Eat After Workout

After a workout, the body needs to repair muscle proteins and rebuild glycogen stores. By consuming the right food after a workout, these goals can be accomplished faster. After a workout, you need to eat foods that are high in carbohydrates and protein to decrease the breakdown of protein and increase protein synthesis. 

Most recovery snacks are within 100 to 300 calories and more. This is why if you’re not an athlete and want to lose weight, the best post-workout snack should be on small servings. As a general rule, aim for at least 10 grams of protein and double or triple the carbohydrates in your post-workout snacks. After intense endurance or cardio workout, you can then go a little higher on the carbohydrates. 

Here are some examples of food that you need to eat after a workout: 

Carbohydrate Sources

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Chocolate milk
  • Fruits (berries, pineapple, banana, kiwi)
  • Rice
  • Rice cakes
  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Dark, leafy green vegetables

Protein Sources

  • Plant-based or animal-based protein powder
  • Greek yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Cottage cheese
  • Protein bar
  • Chicken
  • Tuna

Sources of Fats

  • Avocado
  • Nut butter
  • Nuts
  • Trail mix (nuts and dried fruits)

Post-workout Quick and Easy Meals to Eat

Eating the right combination of food in one meal after a workout can help replenish your lost energy and rebuild your muscles.

Here are some examples of quick and easy meals to consume after a workout: 

  • Grilled chicken, beef, or pork with roasted vegetables
  • Salmon or fish with sweet potato
  • Egg omelet with butter or avocado spread on bread toast
  • Tuna salad whole grain bread sandwich 
  • Oatmeal, banana, almonds, and whey protein
  • Pita and hummus
  • Fruits and cottage cheese 
  • Peanut butter and rice crackers 
  • Skim milk and cereal 
  • Berries, granola, and Greek yogurt
  • Banana and protein shake 
  • Raw peanuts and multi-grain bread 
  • Quinoa bowl with pecans and berries

Conclusion

Your body needs sufficient energy to perform at its best before a workout and recover after training. This is why knowing the right foods to eat before and after a workout is important to ensure that you’ll never feel sluggish, too tired, or sickly. Don’t miss eating breakfast and the important meals of the day before and after exercise for maximum workout performance.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "Fitness Tips: What You Should Eat Before And After Your Workouts," in Medicalopedia, March 20, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/8538/fitness-tips-what-you-should-eat-before-and-after-your-workouts/].