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What to Eat Pre/Post Workout?


Pamela Budhoo, Nutritionist, Health Influencer, Writer/Contributor for Effective Lifestyle

It’s important to consume proper food and fluid before, during, and after physical activity. Appropriate nutrition and hydration will aid in maintaining blood sugar levels during exercise. It’ll also enhance performance and improve recovery time.


Before starting a workout, you should fuel your body with the proper nutrition. Most individuals know not to eat directly before engaging in exercise. If you do eat, your muscles will be at work while your stomach is trying to digest food you just consumed. These two processes might cause an internal battle which can ultimately hinder performance as well as lead to GI discomfort. If possible, it’s best to eat anywhere between 1-4 hours before you work out. Pay attention to how your body tolerates food before exercise to figure out what time frame works best for you.

Carbohydrates are the main fuel source for your muscles. You should be consuming healthy carbs before a workout to provide the body with energy. Healthy carbs include whole-grain cereals, whole-wheat toast, whole grain pasta, brown rice, fruits and vegetables. Try to avoid eating saturated fats and too much healthy protein before a workout. Foods as such, will digest at a slower rate and take away oxygen and energy-delivering blood from your muscles. While too much protein isn’t the best idea, eating some will be beneficial especially if you’re engaging in weight training exercises. Lifting weights can create small tears in the muscle fibers which will need to be later repaired. Eating a little protein before working out will allow the body to produce the right amino acids available for your muscles. Try to choose protein sources that are easy to digest.


  • Granola bar

  • Oatmeal w/fruit

  • Whole grain toast w/eggs

  • Greek yogurt w/berries

  • Apples w/peanut butter

  • Rice cakes w/nut better

  • Protein smoothie w/fruits and veggies

During Workout

Whether you’re doing a low/moderate workout routine or training for several hours, it is best that you keep the body hydrated. That doesn’t mean you should sit and chug a bottle of water but rather take a few sips here and there quite frequently. Too much water at once may cause cramping. In terms of eating, you do not need to ingest food if you’re working out for an hour or less. For a longer workout, have a quick bite of carbs every half an hour to keep your energy level up.


While you were working out, the body was using stored glycogen in the muscle for energy. Some proteins in the muscle were also broken down and damaged. You’ll need to replenish what was used after your workout. Eating about 20 minutes to an hour after a workout will be optimal. Since your main focus is to restore what was depleted, try to eat carbohydrates and protein after a workout. Eating carbs will give your muscles the opportunity to replenish its glycogen stores which were lost during physical activity. Consuming protein will give your body the necessary amino acids it needs to help your weary muscles rebuild and repair. Eating protein after a workout is what is going to help your muscles grow. In addition to carbs and protein, you’ll need to re-hydrate the body. During your workout, fluids were lost through sweat. Being so, it’s important to provide the body with fluids after a workout.


  • Grilled chicken w/veggies

  • Baked chicken w/quinoa

  • Turkey on whole grain wrap w/veggies

  • Protein Shake

  • Cottage cheese w/fruit

  • Salmon w/sweet potatoes

  • Salmon w/brown rice and veggies

  • Avocado toast w/eggs

  • Deli meat roll ups

  • Hard-boiled eggs w/whole wheat bread

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