Eating Right: Pre and Post Exercise

What to Eat Before and After you Exercise


Learn how to fuel your body properly before and after exercise so that you have energy for a strong workout and have the proper meal to replenish after, all without exceeding your calorie count.  Here are some tips and tricks to pre- and post- exercise eating, including easy snack and meal ideas.

Before Your Workout!

Overall Consumption: High-carbohydrate, Moderate Protein, Low Fat Meals

Why: Carbs = Energy. You need energy for your workout.  Protein and Fats do not digest well during exercise.

When: For early morning workouts eat a small snack in the hour before you workout.  For day and night workouts consume your meal within 4 hours before your workout.

You don't need much!:  100-200 calories will do to give you sufficient energy for a 1 hour workout.

Quick Snack before early morning workouts:

  • Half banana
  • A few pieces of dried fruit and a couple of nuts
  • A handful of dried cereal
  • Slice of toast
  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal dry with half a banana

Meals before workout:

  • Half a chicken, turkey or lean roast beef sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • Low-fat yogurt with a sliced banana
  • Low-fat string cheese and 6 whole-grain crackers
  • Hard-boiled eggs, yolks removed and replaced with hummus
  • Skim milk blended with frozen fruit to make a smoothie

Precede with Caution! Protein Bars ahead!

Is your protein bar a glorified candy bar?  Take a look at the back of the package before eating your bar on the go.  Choose a bar with 200 calories or less, up to 5 grams of protein and 25 grams of carbohydrates.  Whenever possible eat whole-foods instead of processed food substitutes.  If you have a bar you love that has a high calorie count eat half of it to cut down on the calorie intake.

Your Workout

Sweat, Keep Strong with good Posture, Breathe, Stay Focused, and Have Fun!

After Your Workout

You just finished a great workout.  Now what?

Overall Consumption: High Protein, Moderate carbohydrate, Low Fat Meals

Why: Consuming protein after your workout will help to build muscle.  Carbohydrates and Fats are needed for energy replacement.

When: Eat within 30min - 1 hour after your workout.

Don't eat more than you burn: Remember you just worked hard to burn those calories don't throw your workout away by overeating.

Quick Snack after your workout:

  • Boiled egg
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese with berries
  • 3-4 oz turkey, chicken breast or fish
  • String cheese, a tablespoon of peanut butter, with a few whole grain crackers and a piece of fruit

Meals afters your workout:

  • One or two eggs on whole-wheat toast
  • Bean burrito: a whole-wheat tortilla filled with black beans, salsa and reduced-fat cheese
  • Stir-fried chicken and vegetables (try pepper, zucchini and carrot) over brown rice
  • Whole-wheat pasta tossed with chicken, broccoli and eggplant
  • Arugula Salad with chicken and parmesan with a few sliced almonds dress with olive oil and balsamic

6 Tips for Speedy Workout Recovery: Check these tips to bounce back with a fast and effective recovery.

Hydrate Hydrate and Hydrate some More!

Drink lots of water throughout your day.  If you are looking to lose weight it is super important to drink 8-10 glasses of water per day.  Avoid sodas, energy drinks, and any drinks that have calories.  Keep alcohol to a minimum- one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men is considered moderate.

Trail and Error!

It is very important to listen to your body and find the foods that work best for you so that you are fueling your body efficiently.  Pay attention to what your are eating before and after your workouts and how you feel during and after exercise to modify your meals accordingly.  Every body is different so there might be a bit of trail and error before you get a combination that works for you.

Let's add to this list of snacks and meals for pre- and post- exercise eating.  What foods work best for you before and after a workout? Write your meals and snacks below.