With diet trends encouraging everything from fasted cardio to counting macros, it can be unclear what you should eat around your workouts. Choosing nutritious snacks and meals before and after a workout can maximize your energy during a workout, improve performance, prevent injuries, support recovery and build muscle strength for your next workout.
To better understand what to eat before a workout you should know the body’s favorite source of energy is carbohydrates. Once consumed, carbohydrates are digested into glucose. Glucose is the sugar that is utilized most efficiently for energy in the body. This means you want your pre-workout snacks to be primarily carbohydrate-based. While it’s okay to pair your carbohydrate-based snack with a protein or fat, it’s best to avoid high fiber, high fat and high protein meals 30 minutes to an hour before a workout because it can be hard to digest. As each person is unique, it’s best to try different snacks and see what works best for you.
Here are some energy–fueling, pre-workout snack ideas:
- Banana and nut butter
- Oatmeal and fruit
- Nut butter and jelly sandwich
- Rice cakes
- Dates and nut butter
- Handful of raisins
- Handful of dry cereal
- Granola bar
Post-workout nutrition is recovery-based. You want to incorporate both protein (to rebuild and repair muscles) and carbohydrates (to replenish glycogen stores in your fatigued muscles). These two macro nutrients work together to help you recover properly from a workout. It’s recommended you eat within an hour of completing an intense workout, but if you can’t, up to four hours after a workout proves beneficial as well.
Here are some recovery post-workout snack and meal ideas:
- Homemade or pre-made protein smoothies
- Hard-boiled egg and avocado toast
- Low-fat chocolate milk
- Turkey on a whole grain wrap with veggies
- Handful of nuts and fruit
- Grilled chicken, rice and broccoli
- Greek yogurt with granola and berries
Food is meant to fuel your body and when utilized as such it can prevent injury and improve your performance. Try some of these pre- and post-workout foods and see if you notice a change in your workouts.