What to Eat Before and After a Workout

Some fruit, a tape measure, and two barbells sit on a table beside the words "What to Eat Before/After Workout"

Are you ready to take your workout results to the next level? Great! One important piece of advice that your personal trainer will give you is that what you eat before and after your workout can make a huge difference in how much benefit you gain from your workout. Here are some ideas of what foods will get you the most benefit from your workout:

What to Eat Before Your Workout

You need to have some fuel in your body to give you energy during your workout, so don’t start a workout on a totally empty stomach. By having something to eat beforehand, you will actually burn more calories while you work out. On the other hand, you don’t need to wolf down huge piles of pancakes the way that some Olympic athletes do. It’s recommended that you have a small snack right before your workout that has about 150 to 200 calories.

Healthy Carbs Will Give You Energy

You should eat healthy, easily digestible carbs to get the energy you need to work out. Ideally, you should consume carbs that are high in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Smoothies are a quick, easy, and delicious way to get the healthy carbs you need, and they are especially easy to digest.

For a cardio workout, healthy carbs may be all you need for your pre-workout snack. But if you are doing strength training, you should add in a small portion of protein too. Peanut butter or whole nuts, low-fat Greek yogurt, or a small piece of low-fat cheese are all good choices. Don’t overload on the protein, though. If you have a protein bar, don’t eat the whole thing before your workout; half a bar is usually enough.

Avoid Saturated Fats

Saturated fats take a long time to digest. When you eat saturated fats before a workout, your body uses resources like blood and oxygen for digestion instead of sending them to your muscles while you’re working out.

Remember to Hydrate

Along with your snack, keep on drinking water before you start your workout. But don’t drink so much that you feel bloated.

What to Eat After Your Workout

How Much Protein and Carbs Do You Need?

Bodybuilders and other athletes usually fuel up with protein and carbs after they work out.  Protein is needed to build muscles, and carbs are needed to restore energy that was used up during the workout.

However, if you are not a bodybuilder or an exceptionally active athlete, you may not need to eat as much right after a workout, as long as your protein intake is adequate throughout the rest of the day.

Have a Post-Workout Snack

While you may not need a huge serving of protein and carbs, you should have a snack about 20 minutes to an hour after your workout. This will help you refuel and also keep you from getting too hungry and maybe overeating later.

The ideal post-workout snack combines a small amount of protein with high-fiber carbs, so what you eat after your workout can be very similar to what you ate before.

Healthy and delicious choices include apple slices with a small amount of peanut butter, hummus on whole-grain bread or crackers, a protein shake made with a banana, and unflavored Greek yogurt with fresh strawberries or blueberries.

Keep on Hydrating

Just as it’s important to stay hydrated before and during your workout, it’s also important to keep up the hydration afterwards. Plain water is always a great choice. You could also add juice to your water for added flavor, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 8 ounces of fluid 10 to 15 minutes after you finish your workout.

Everyone’s Body is Different

Following the guidelines listed above will help you burn more calories, build more muscle, and increase your endurance. However, every person’s body is different; your body’s precise nutritional needs are not exactly the same as anyone else’s.  You should tweak your pre- and post-workout nutrition plans to fit the needs of your unique body.

You don’t need to figure this all out by yourself – a personal trainer can help. The best trainers are experts in how diet and exercise interact. They can help you create an individual pre- and post-workout eating plan based on your individual needs, and then give you the support and motivation you need to stick with the plan.

For fantastic trainers, an exciting choice of workout options, and a smoothie bar with delicious low-calorie choices for your pre- and post-workout snacks – all in a friendly and inclusive environment – Texas FITT is the place to go. We invite you to take a tour of our world-class facilities and see why yourself how Texas FITT can get you in the best shape of your life!