What to eat before and after a workout

Our pre- and post-workout nutrition needs are actually very similar.  At least an hour or two before a workout, our body needs a decent amount of carbohydrates to function properly and carry us through the exercises.

Right now, you may be thinking: Why carbs? Aren’t they the enemy?  NO.  Carbs are not the enemy,  I promise!


Our bodies need carbohydrates before a workout because they are its main source of energy;  without it,  we would experience fatigue,  and that’s not what we want when we’re trying to make gains.

When our bodies don’t have enough carbohydrates stored in them (from a pre-workout meal or snack),  they turn to protein as a source of energy instead.  And guess where that protein is taken from: our muscles! Think about it… without carbohydrates,  our bodies break down our muscle,  the whole reason we are exercising in the first place!

It is a huge misconception that carbs are the enemy and protein is all we need,  but that’s not to say that protein is irrelevant.  The best thing we can do for our bodies before a workout,  at least one to two hours prior,  is to eat a carbohydrate-rich meal,  accompanied by some protein.  Of course,  everyone’s needs are different,  but it is safe to say that approximately 30-60 grams of carbs and 15-20 grams of protein are sufficient to fuel our bodies before an intense workout.

Our bodies’ needs are similar for post-workout nutrition,  too.  During our workout,  we burned through our energy source and now we need to replenish it.  It is best to avoid consuming high sources of fat prior to exercise (because they take longer to digest and make you feel sluggish),  however,  a balanced post-workout refuel can include them alongside a carbohydrate- and protein-rich meal.


Here are some examples of meals or snacks for before and/or after a workout:

  • Peanut butter and jelly (or banana) on whole grain
  • Oatmeal with skim milk (mix in some protein powder, too!)
  • Egg whites on a whole grain English muffin (sprinkle on some cheese, too!)
  • Chicken breast and yams
  • Turkey and cheddar sandwich on whole grain
  • Protein bar (if you’re in a time crunch!)


So, don’t forget:  although you may guzzle down a protein shake while rushing back to work after your “lunch break” at the gym,  you’ll want an apple or banana to go with it,  too!

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