Should You Eat Before a Workout or After? The Best Before Workout Meal

Updated: Jun 21

What you eat before and after your workout can make all the difference when it comes to having an effective exercise routine. Here are some tips for what to eat before and after a workout.

Image of a healthy pre or post workout meal

When it comes to working out, what you put into your body is just as important as the time you spend sweating it out. Eating the right foods before and after a workout can help improve your performance, prevent injury and speed up recovery time. Here are some tips for what to eat before and after a workout.


What To Eat Before a Workout and After a Workout


For many women, the decision of what to eat before a workout is an important one. Do you load up on carbs beforehand, or should you focus on protein? And what about after your workout? Should you reach for a protein shake or something else entirely? Knowing what to eat and when can help you make the most of your workout.


It's critical to realize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for you may not work for someone else, and vice versa. The best approach to figuring out what works best for you is to experiment with different foods and keep track of how your diet affects your performance.


Related: Vegan vs. Keto Debate: Which Option Is Right for Your Health and Wellness Journey?


According to one review, eating carbohydrates before exercise can help improve performance for longer workouts, but it won't help for shorter workouts. The type of carbs you consume before a workout can also influence your performance.[*] Protein helps your muscles and other tissues recover, while carbs help replenish glycogen stores.


What To Eat Before a Workout


Eating before a workout can give you the energy you need to power through your session. The best pre-workout meal is one that is high in carbs and contains moderate protein. This will help you avoid feeling sluggish or weighed down.


Pre-Workout Nutrition

Consider the following options:

● A banana with almond butter

● Trail mix with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit

● Oatmeal with berries

● A sandwich with peanut butter and fruit preserves

● A piece of fruit

● A fruit smoothie made with protein powder


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Water is also required for optimal performance. It's a good idea to hydrate with water and sodium-containing beverages before exercise to promote fluid balance and prevent excessive fluid loss.[*]


What To Eat After a Workout


When you're done working out, eat or drink meals that contain protein, fat, and carbohydrates to aid muscle recovery and regeneration.


Post-Workout Nutrition

Good options include:

● Chocolate milk or a protein shake

● A sweet potato with grilled chicken

● Salmon, veggies, and brown rice

● A turkey and avocado sandwich on whole-wheat bread

● A bowl of lentil soup with some whole grain crackers



Related: What Does Drinking Water Do for Metabolism, Skin, and Digestion?


Should You Eat Before a Workout or After a Workout?


It’s a common question that many women have, and there are different schools of thought on the matter.


A review of the literature reveals that it all depends on your fitness goals and preferences. According to the majority of the studies, eating before short-term aerobics or intermittent activities such as HIIT does not provide any significant benefits.[***]


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Although the evidence is inconclusive, working out in a fasted state might be beneficial if you're trying to lose weight. According to some experts, fasting workouts might produce more favorable changes in body fat than working out after eating.[*]


Related: 5 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Women Who Want To Improve Their Health


Yet, if you're going to do a lengthy, rigorous exercise or are a competitive athlete, there may be benefits to eating beforehand. A couple of studies have shown that eating carbohydrate-containing meals or supplements before an intense, prolonged workout can improve performance during exercise.[*]


In conclusion, for the average person, there does not appear to be much if any benefit of eating before exercise.[*] But, if you're an endurance athlete or an athlete requiring high-intensity exercise, eating before your workout may be beneficial.[*] Ultimately, the choice is up to you.


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Final Thoughts About What To Eat Before a Workout or After


There is no definitive answer to the debate over whether you should eat before a workout or after. What works for you may not work for someone else, so it's important to test things out and keep track of how your eating affects your performance. The best way to figure out what works for you is to try different strategies and see what makes you feel the best.


If you're looking for more exercise motivation, check out our inspirational exercise tracker to help you improve your health and wellness and stay motivated to work out.


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