What to eat before and after working out

You’ve got your shorts, T-shirt and sneakers and you’re ready to hit the gym. A few minutes into your workout you start feeling dizzy and lightheaded. This is because you were missing an important item to get the most out of your workout – food.

Whether you are heading to the gym to lift some weights, a studio to practice yoga or working out from your home gym, these workouts should be energized with food. And let’s not forget to follow up with proper nutrition. The foods we eat after a workout are just as important as those we eat before – a pre-workout snack helps fuel our bodies and some post-workout protein starts the recovery process for our muscles.


Not sure where to start? Consider using these tips as a guide:

Pre-workout

Think about the size and nutritional components of your pre-workout snack. You don’t want to feel sluggish or bloated during a workout, so the key is to eat something small that is easily digestible.

Make a plan to get your nutrients in one to two hours before exercising. This may include:

  • Drinking water
  • Eating healthy carbs with whole grains (whole wheat toast with peanut butter, whole grain cereal, fruits and select vegetables or fat-free yogurt)
  • Avoiding saturated fats

Tight on time? Eat an apple or banana as a quick fuel up 5-10 minutes before you exercise

Post-workout

After sweating it out, refuel your body within the next half hour.

This may include:

  • Replenishing your body with water and fluids — experts recommend 4-8 ounces for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise
  • Refueling with carbohydrates to help replace the carbs you may have burned in your workout
  • Adding protein to help repair and grow muscle

Looking for a one-stop snack? Some choices combine carbohydrates and protein including: Yogurt and fruit, chocolate milk or a protein shake.

What to avoid

Eating or drinking the wrong thing before may result in a poor workout. If you can, avoid eating or drinking the following:

  • Carbonated drinks
    These may make you feel gassy and bloated
  • Fiber-rich foods
    Foods like broccoli or lentils take longer to digest, drawing blood to your digestive system. During a workout, you want your blood flowing to your muscles rather than your gut.
  • Nuts
    Like high-fiber foods, foods high in fat also digest slower, causing blood to flow to the gut.
  • Spicy foods
    This may trigger heartburn or acid reflux during a workout.