What to eat before and after a workout is an important question as nutrition has a big impact on the quality of your workout and recovery. The right nutrition helps you perform better and recover faster. To maximize your workout investment, here are ideas for healthy ways to fuel your workout. Use these suggestions as mini meals or snacks. I’ve broken this into two posts for easier reading.
What to Eat Before a Workout
I got into fitness more than 20 years ago when I was 40, flabby and out of shape. The weight came off but my hair started breaking, my nails were ripping off, and my friends said I looked terrible. I mean what are friend’s for? Analyzing my diet I discovered I wasn’t fueling myself right for my new lifestyle. And so began my zest for fitness, nutrition and eating healthy for a healthy life. So, on to what to eat before a workout.
Eating protein before and after workouts increases performance, recovery, lean body mass, building muscle, and strength. For women concerned about building muscle, we can’t bulk up like men can because of hormone differences. On the other hand, building muscle is one of the most important things women can do to stay strong and age successfully.
Timing is important. Experts recommend if you eat a full meal waiting 2 hours before working out. If you need fuel beforehand, go for a mini-meal or snack 20-30 minutes before. Eating light and right gives your body fuel to burn and won’t divert your energy to digestion or make you feel uncomfortable. Choose low-fiber, easy to digest carbs with a little protein. Keep it small and simple.
Here are a few ideas. Let everyone know in comments if you’ve found other snacks that work for you.
- A banana with 1-2 tablespoons of nut butter (cashew for me)
- A cup of plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt with a handful of berries
- A small smoothie
- Mashed sweet potato with a little plain yogurt (and a little fresh chopped rosemary is great)
- Cottage cheese and fruit
- Applesauce with a little protein powder stirred in (cinnamon is good too)
- Whole-grain or grain-free tortilla with a little deli turkey (briefly steam tortillas to roll without breaking)
- 1-2 hard boiled or scrambled eggs and a small apple (egg salad is good too)
- A little hummus and gluten-free crackers or pita (or whole grain)
- Almond chia pudding with berries
The FitExpo is a family-friendly event bringing together thousands of fitness fans from bodybuilders to martial arts enthusiasts, personal trainers and group exercise instructors, and from competitive athletes to weekend warriors. If you love fitness, its a fun convention! Attendees discover new health and wellness products and services, access free fitness classes, cooking demos, and much more.
The 2020 event in Anaheim, California cancelled due to Covid-19, so they held virtual events online. My dear friend, Mareya Ibrahim aka the Fit Foodie, asked me to speak on what to eat before and after a workout. That’s how this post came to be. If you watched the event, I typed these notes up for you! Check out The FitExpo page for next year’s cities and dates.
Here is the video link to my FitExpo interview with Chef Mareya, The Fit Foodie!
For what to eat after a workout, please see part 2. (out soon)