What to Eat Before a Workout and After, According to Experts

1. Power Up

Getting the right foods before and after you work out can help you do better. Like a car needs gas to run, your body needs carbs to run. They give you the energy you need to keep going on that run or in that fitness class. Refueling with a mix of protein and carbs after your workout can help you rebuild muscle. Are you ready to get the most out of your workout?

2. Time It Right

A snack or small meal should be eaten 1 to 3 hours before your workout. If you eat a lot right before, it can make your stomach hurt. This is because when you work out, more blood goes to your muscles and less to digestion. After you work out, your body is ready to take in food and build muscle. Eat or drink in the hour after you finish.

Before: PB&J

Carbs are provided by the bread and jelly in this lunchbox staple. They provide the energy your muscles require while exercising. The peanut butter adds protein, which helps you feel full and can help you avoid post-workout cravings and binges. In fact, studies show that eating little amounts of peanuts can help you maintain a healthy weight. Are you going for a leisurely walk or a yoga class? You could only require half a sandwich.

Before: Oatmeal With Low-Fat Milk and Fruit

Do you exercise in the morning? Begin your day with high-fiber, whole-grain oatmeal and fruit. Because the carbs in this combination are digested more slowly, your blood sugar remains stable. You’ll be invigorated for a longer period of time. Stir in additional low-fat milk for added protein and bone-building calcium.

Before: Fruit-and-Yogurt Smoothie

Smoothies digest quickly, so you won’t be sluggish during your workout. However, many store-bought versions have a lot of added sugar. Make your own with protein-rich yogurt and fruit, which contains energy-boosting carbohydrates. To stay hydrated, mix it with water or ice. According to research, not consuming enough fluids might deplete your strength and stamina.

Before: Trail Mix

Trail mix is a trekking classic, but it’s also a great snack for any workout. Raisins provide a rapid burst of energy that is easy on the stomach. Combine a small handful of them with a few almonds, which are high in protein and unsaturated fat that is good for your heart. They also contain an antioxidant, which may help your body use oxygen more effectively, resulting in greater exercise effects.

Before: Low-Fat Latte and an Apple

If you like coffee, have a latte before you go to that morning or lunchtime fitness class. The milk will give you protein, and the caffeine may help your sore muscles feel better. Combine it with a healthy carb like an apple. Caffeine can make it hard to sleep, so don’t drink it in the afternoon. You could have a glass of low-fat milk or a piece of string cheese instead of the latte.

Before: Banana

Have only 5 or 10 minutes until your workout? Snack on a banana. Their simple carbs give you energy without making you feel heavy. They also have a lot of antioxidants and potassium, which is a mineral that may help keep muscles from cramping. Put one in your gym bag in case you get hungry on the way.

After: Egg and Whole-Wheat Toas

The carbs in the toast give you back the energy you burned when you worked out, and the fiber keeps your blood sugar level steady. Adding an egg will help you do better. They are a complete protein, which means they have all nine of the essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle. No time for a mad dash after your workout? Pack a hard-boiled egg with a roll or crackers made from whole grains.

After: Chocolate Milk

This childhood classic offers the optimum carb-to-protein ratio to replenish and rebuild muscles. A research indicated that athletes who drank after a workout recovered faster than those who drank simply carbs. Plus, chocolate milk is 90% water, so it replenishes sweat-lost fluids.

After: Whole-Grain Turkey Wrap

Make this after your workout. Whole grains are high-fiber carbs, and 3-ounces of turkey offers 19 grams of protein. Avocado’s potassium and magnesium can prevent muscle cramps. Avocado has heart-healthy unsaturated fats and vitamins.

After: Greek Yogurt and Fruit

This creamy delicacy contains 20 grams of protein per cup. Topping your bowl with fruit will add more nutrition and energy-boosting carbs. You’ll gain even more benefit if you utilize antioxidant-rich blueberries. According to research, eating them after a workout can aid with the muscle inflammation caused by exercise.

After: Salmon With Sweet Potato

This fish has a lot of protein and omega-3s, which are heart-healthy fats that can help ease the inflammation that makes muscles sore after a workout. Salmon with a baked sweet potato in its skin will give you 23 grams of carbs and 3.8 grams of fiber, which will help you feel full. You’ll also get all the vitamin A you need in a day to help your immune system. You can roast or mash your sweet potato, but leave out the high-calorie butter and cream. Instead, use a few drops of olive oil.

After: Chicken, Brown Rice, and Veggies

There’s a reason skinless chicken breast is regarded as a diet food: In only 142 calories, half of one contains 27 grams of protein. It also contains a lot of vitamin B-6, which is essential for your immune system. Serve it with brown rice and vegetables to get the correct balance of carbs and nutrients.

Before, During, and After: Drink Up

Make sure you have plenty of water. How much? Use the following guidelines:

  • Before exercise: About 2 to 3 cups
  • During exercise: About 1/2 to 1 cup every 15 to 20 minutes
  • After exercise: About 2 to 3 cups for every pound you lose during exercise (you can weigh yourself before and after your workout).

After: Sports Drink?

Water is all you need for an hour or less of activity. Longer trips require electrolyte replacement. Sodium, potassium, and magnesium are hydrating minerals. Sweating loses them. Sports drinks or coconut water have electrolytes.

Foods to Avoid

Stay away from fatty, rich foods. Fat takes longer for your body to break down, which can make you feel sick to your stomach. Some people can’t work out when they eat a lot of fiber or protein. Everyone has a different body, so focus on what works for you. Stick to tried-and-true snacks and meals if you’re running a race, like a 5K.