The foods you eat before and after a workout directly affect your results. You could be tearing it up in the gym, but if you’re not fueling your body with the right nutrients, you may not be seeing the results you want.
What you eat before hitting the gym affects how you feel throughout your workout. Your pre-workout snack will either make you feel fueled, energized and give you lasting endurance, or it can make you feel tired, sluggish, and ready to quit! You already know working out hungry is never a good idea – not only will you have a lack of energy, but it can also lead to the breakdown of muscle tissue as your body is looking for some sort of fuel. So, even if you work out first thing in the morning when you’re not yet hungry, it’s still a good idea to have something before exercise.
What you eat after a workout should replenish your body and feed your muscles. Don’t let your hard work go to waste – get the right nutrients post-workout!
Below are some ideas for what to eat before and after a workout.
What to eat before working out
Pre-workout is considered the energy phase. You want to eat foods that will energize you and give you stamina. A snack consisting of carbohydrates and protein is ideal for before a workout. Carbs give you energy, and protein helps to slowly release that energy so it lasts longer.
1. Banana with Peanut Butter or Almonds
Bananas are a fast acting carbohydrate, and the natural sugars give you a good boost of energy. The potassium in bananas also play an important role in muscle function. Pair one with peanut butter or almonds to add in some protein.
Try this peanut butter, banana, and oat smoothie that is sure to fuel you up for any workout.
2. Apple Slices with Peanut or Almond Butter
Slice up an apple and spread on the peanut or almond butter for a great source of healthy carbs, natural sugars, and protein.
3. Oatmeal with Fruit
The whole grain in oats will keep your blood sugar stable throughout your workout and the fiber will keep you from feeling hungry. It’s also a natural source of protein. Add in some fruit for its natural sugar, and you have a perfect pre-workout snack.
4. Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is an excellent source of protein. Pair it up with fruit for the carbs and you have a deliciously healthy pre-workout snack. You can also sprinkle some oats or granola on top for added protein and fiber.
5. Whole Grain Toast with Peanut Butter
Whole grain bread is an excellent source of carbs. Pair it up with peanut or almond butter for protein. Add some banana slices on top for more benefits.
6. Whole Grain Cereal with Milk
A bowl of cereal is a great choice for a pre-workout snack if you’re in a pinch for time. Whole grain cereal is another excellent source of carbohydrates, while milk is an excellent source of protein.
What to eat after working out
Post-workout is considered the recovery phase. You want to eat the rights foods that will feed and repair your body and muscles, and do so within 30-45 minutes of your workout so your muscles don’t start to break down.
Protein is important after a workout, but it’s not all you should be taking in. During a workout, your body uses up nutrients and you sweat out a lot of minerals, so you want to replenish it with a wholesome meal or smoothie.
1. Egg Omelet with Veggies
If you’re a morning-time exerciser, follow your morning workout with a veggie egg omelet, or an egg or two with veggies on the side. The combination provides an excellent source of protein as well as many vital vitamins and minerals.
2. Healthy Hearty Sandwich
A good sandwich or wrap containing whole wheat, lean protein such as turkey or tuna, and veggies is an optimal choice for a mid-day post-workout meal.
3. Healthy Salad with Chicken and a Light Dressing
A salad is a great option following a workout. Just make sure to add in some chicken for lean protein! This Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad from Panera is my favorite.
4. Grilled Chicken and Vegetables
Grilled chicken and vegetables will provide your body with lean protein, carbs, and an abundance of vitamins and minerals to help in recovery.
5. Rice and Beans
Brown rice and beans are two of the best foods you can eat after a workout because they are both packed with protein, fiber, complex carbs, and an array of minerals. Add in a veggie like red peppers and the dish becomes a post-workout powerhouse.
6. Fish with Rice and Vegetables
High in protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, fish is a great post-workout choice to help your muscles recover. Pair with rice and vegetable for fiber and added vitamins and minerals.
The above are just some ideas for what to eat before and after a workout. The list of options in infinite, and it can be hard to know what foods are best and when to eat them. The key is this: Before a workout, be sure to eat a snack containing carbs and protein to provide lasting energy and better stamina; never work out without eating something at least 2-3 hours within your start-time, as this will only deteriorate your muscles; eat a nutrient packed meal containing protein, vitamins and minerals within 30-45 minutes after your workout to replenish your body; and always choose real food – not processed.