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

Updated: Feb 26

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.



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.



Fuel Your Workout: What to Eat Before Exercising


Ensuring you have the right fuel before a workout is key to maximizing your performance and achieving your fitness goals. The ideal pre-workout meal strikes a balance between carbohydrates for energy and protein for muscle support. Here are some delicious and energizing options to consider, all available on Amazon:


Pre-Workout Nutrition Ideas:


Banana with Almond Butter: This simple yet effective option provides a combination of carbohydrates from the banana and protein and healthy fats from the almond butter. Try the Barney Butter Almond Butter, available in various flavors on Amazon, for a tasty and nutritious pre-workout snack.


Trail Mix with Nuts, Seeds, and Dried Fruit: Trail mix offers a convenient blend of carbohydrates, protein, and fats, making it an excellent pre-workout option. Explore the Nature's Garden Trail Mix Snack Packs on Amazon for a variety of delicious combinations to fuel your workout.


Oatmeal with Berries: Oatmeal is a great source of complex carbohydrates, while berries add natural sweetness and antioxidants. Consider the Bob's Red Mill Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats and a bag of freeze-dried berries from Natierra available on Amazon for a nutritious and satisfying pre-workout meal.


Peanut Butter and Fruit Preserve Sandwich: This classic combination provides a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats to sustain your energy levels during a workout. Stock up on 365 By Whole Foods Fruit Spread and your favorite brand of peanut butter on Amazon to create your perfect pre-workout sandwich.


Piece of Fruit: Fruits like apples, oranges, or grapes are convenient and easy-to-digest options for pre-workout fuel. Grab a variety pack of fresh fruits or explore freeze-dried fruit options like Brothers-ALL-Natural Freeze-Dried Fruit Crisps on Amazon for a portable and tasty pre-workout snack.


Fruit Smoothie with Protein Powder: Blend up a refreshing fruit smoothie with added protein powder for a convenient and customizable pre-workout meal. Try the Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder available in various flavors on Amazon for a clean and delicious protein boost.


By fueling your body with the right nutrients before a workout, you can optimize your performance, enhance muscle recovery, and make the most out of your exercise session. Incorporate these pre-workout nutrition ideas into your routine and feel the difference in your energy levels and overall performance.



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.[*]


Refuel and Recover: What to Eat After Exercising


After a challenging workout, it's crucial to refuel your body with the nutrients it needs to repair muscles and replenish energy stores. Aim for a post-workout meal that combines protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to support muscle recovery and regeneration. Here are some nutritious and satisfying options to consider, all conveniently available on Amazon:


Post-Workout Nutrition Ideas:


Chocolate Milk or Protein Shake: Chocolate milk is a classic post-workout beverage that provides a perfect balance of carbohydrates and protein. Alternatively, opt for a protein shake like the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder, available in various flavors on Amazon, for a convenient and delicious post-workout protein boost.


Sweet Potato with Grilled Chicken: Sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates and vitamins, while grilled chicken offers lean protein to support muscle repair. Stock up on sweet potatoes and your favorite brand of grilled chicken seasoning on Amazon to create a satisfying post-workout meal.


Salmon, Veggies, and Brown Rice: Salmon is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, while brown rice and veggies provide complex carbohydrates and essential nutrients. Explore sustainably sourced salmon options like the Wild Planet Wild Sockeye Salmon available on Amazon for a nutritious and flavorful post-workout dish.


Turkey and Avocado Sandwich on Whole-Wheat Bread: This protein-packed sandwich combines lean turkey, creamy avocado, and whole-wheat bread for a balanced post-workout meal. Consider stocking up on Applegate Natural Oven Roasted Turkey Breast and your favorite brand of whole-wheat bread on Amazon for a quick and easy post-workout refuel.


Bowl of Lentil Soup with Whole Grain Crackers: Lentils are a rich source of plant-based protein and fiber, making them an excellent choice for post-workout recovery. Pair a bowl of lentil soup with some whole-grain crackers for a satisfying and nutritious post-workout meal. Explore organic lentil soup options like Amy's Organic Lentil Soup available on Amazon for a convenient and wholesome option.


By nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods after a workout, you can support muscle recovery, replenish energy stores, and promote overall well-being. Incorporate these post-workout nutrition ideas into your routine to maximize the benefits of your exercise regimen and accelerate your fitness goals.




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.[***]


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.[*]



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.


Best Meal Prep Containers [*]:

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.



Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site, including text, graphics, images, and other material, is provided solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your specific condition.


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