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What to Eat Before, During and After a Workout

bigstock-cute-black-woman-eating-vegeta-50974277We all know how important nutrition is for not only a healthier life but also a better, more productive workout (especially if you’re training for an endurance event). However, there’s a lot of confusion as to what you should eat and when. The good folks at Life Fitness are setting the record straight with some easy-to-follow tips that are sure to fuel your next workout properly. Eat it up!

Calories and What They Mean for Your Workout

Are all calories created equal? The basic premise is you need to balance calories consumed with calories burned to maintain a healthy weight, but the type of calorie you choose does indeed make a difference when it comes to fueling your body before, during and after a workout. Here are some quick tips from the exercise experts at Life Fitness about how to choose your calories wisely.

1. Prime your pump with pre-workout carbohydrates. The key to any exercise routine is setting your body up for success. The best way to burn fat is to fuel your body with adequate carbohydrates so you have the energy to work hard, burn a lot of calories and eventually lose body fat as a result. Choose a small snack (100-200 calories) prior to a workout (30 minutes before if possible) that can deliver carbohydrates quickly to your system.

Pick a healthy carbohydrate like:

  • A piece of fruit
  • A sports drink
  • Energy or granola bars
  • Oatmeal
  • A whole grain piece of toast with a spread of agave nectar

2. Stay hydrated during your workouts. Drinking water is fine for workouts less than an hour long. The rule of thumb is to drink approximately four to six ounces of water for every 15 minutes of intense exercise. Anything longer than an hour or in extreme conditions may require fuel replacement, like a sports drink.

3. Recover with post-workout protein. After a workout, for muscle repair and recovery, you need to refuel your body with a quality source of protein, the building blocks to your muscles. The best timing for these calories is within 45 minutes of finishing your workout and no more than two hours after.

Try a snack with a combination of protein and carbs such as:

  • Yogurt or protein fruit smoothie
  • Fiber cereal and milk
  • Hard boiled eggs (or egg whites) with a piece of toast
  • Peanut butter on bread
  • Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
  • Cottage cheese with veggies or fruit
  • Chocolate milk

Thanks Life Fitness for the solid tips! What do you eat before, during and after a workout? —Jenn

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!

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6 Comments
  1. Jo says:

    I had read that it was good to have protein before a work out too. Is there no truth to that? I always have it after. And I always hydrate and eat some good carbs 2-3hrs beforehand.

  2. Ashley says:

    Thanks, girls! This exactly the information I was looking for. I just found this blog a few months ago and love it. Keep up the great work you’re all doing to keep us fit and healthy.

  3. BK says:

    I so needed this reminder today!!! THANK YOU!!

  4. Stacey says:

    Thanks for posting this! I’m constantly testing out new foods before/during and after a workout! For me it depends on the kind of workout – for a run I can tolerate very little in my stomach so I stick to carbs the night before and a protein shake the morning of – then gels and water during. A combo of protein/carbs immediately after.

    For a bike ride I do some carbs and protein before – same routine after. Same for weights. 🙂

  5. Angela says:

    i can definitely attest that protein post-workout is worth it. i used to avoid it, seeing it as an “extra meal” and therefore “extra calories” but my muscles recover SO much faster when i do it.

  6. Carrie Slater says:

    I have recently talked to my doctor and have the go ahead to workout, and she also said that oatmeal, nuts, ect. was what I needed to eat to fuel my body. I don’t particularly like oatmeal but I am going to try it so I can get with my program. But I thank you for all the tips and I am now on my way to getting with the program.

    Carrie Slater