What to Eat Before and After a Workout

January 26, 2016

Chocolate Milk & BananaOne of the best ways to make your workout go farther is to eat the right kinds of food before and after you work out. Before you work out, you need to make sure that you have eaten something that will give you energy and power without weighing you down. And, since working out often stimulates the appetite, you need to eat something afterwards that will satisfy you without undoing all work you just did. Knowing what foods to choose can be daunting though, so here are some ideas based upon the kind of exercise you are doing.

If you are doing some sort of cardio exercise like running, kickboxing, or cycling, then you will want snacks that are easy to digest before you start. Fruit is a great pre-cardio snack. Add a little bit of protein and you will give your body just the fuel it needs to really kick it. For example, a pear drizzled with a little bit of honey or any apple with peanut butter is a great choice. Afterwards, choose a snack with protein and healthy carbs. A combination of chocolate milk and a banana is just perfect.

If your workout includes intervals or circuit training then you’ll want to focus on simple carbs like whole grain breads spread with blueberry or blackberry preserves. Afterward, you want something to restore your energy and build and repair muscle. Wholegrain crackers, avocado, and shredded cheese are an excellent choice.

When your workout focuses on toning (yoga, pilates, barre). Again, simple carbs are a great start along with an equal amount of protein and fat to sustain energy all day. A tangerine and a small handful of nuts like pistachios is a choice pre-workout. Afterward, something like hummus and sliced veggies is just the right combination.

If you will be lifting weights, you will want to focus on protein. Protein helps to grow muscle as well as helping it to recover afterwards. Prior to weight training, a cup of boiled edamame is a light and protein rich snack. Afterward, plain non-fat or low fat yogurt with strawberries or raspberries will satisfy your hunger while giving you the protein needed to rebuild your muscles.

No matter what you choose to snack on pre or post workout, you do want to make sure that you don’t exercise on an empty stomach. By focusing on simple carbs, you give your body fuel that is easy to break down. You help to prevent your body from breaking down its own muscle or tissue for fuel. You don’t need a lot for maximum benefits – just 150 to 200 calories, but for the best work outs, you do need something before and after. So, if you really want to get the most out of your workouts, don’t forget to snack smart!