The Best Foods to Eat Before and After Working Out

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Nutrition has a big impact on your metabolism, especially after working out — here’s what you should be fueling your body with before and after working out.

What you eat before and after exercise can have a big impact on your performance and recovery. Food is the source of energy that humans rely on; not eating before and after burning calories can actually diminish performance

Here’s why eating before and after working out is important and some suggestions for foods to eat at those times.

Why Should I Eat Before Working Out?

Eating Before Workout

Eating before working out provides your body with the energy it needs to perform. If you don’t eat before exercising, you may feel lightheaded, dizzy, or fatigued. Eating before a workout also helps to prevent muscle breakdown, as your body will use the food you eat for energy instead of breaking down your muscle tissue.

But what should you eat before a workout? It’s best to consume a balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Carbohydrates provide energy, while protein helps to repair and build muscle tissue. 

Working out on an empty stomach is not advised because you won’t be fueling your body for those strenuous workouts. This can actually slow your metabolism over time. 

What to Eat Before a Workout

Granola Bowl

Here are some options you can consider before a workout:

  • Whole grain toast with almond butter and banana slices
  • Greek yogurt with berries and granola
  • A smoothie with spinach, banana, and peanut butter
  • Hard-boiled eggs with a piece of fruit
  • Turkey and cheese on a whole-grain wrap

It’s important to eat a meal or snack that’s easily digestible and won’t cause stomach discomfort during exercise. Try to eat your meal or snack an hour before your workout for optimal digestion and energy.

Why Should I Eat After Working Out?

Eating Protein Bar

Eating after working out is just as important as eating before. When you exercise, your body uses up its glycogen stores for energy. Eating after exercising helps to replenish those stores and repair muscle tissue that was broken down during your workout.

If your mealtime is more than two hours away, it’s best to eat a healthy snack to give your body the fuel it needs. 

If you don’t eat after working out, you may experience muscle soreness or fatigue. Eating after a workout can also boost your metabolism and aid in weight loss and muscle gain.

What to Eat After a Workout

Grilled Chicken

Now that you know why it’s important to eat after working out, let’s explore some specific foods that are good to eat after a workout. Here are some options:

  • Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables
  • Greek yogurt with fruit and honey
  • A smoothie with protein powder, banana, and almond milk
  • Brown rice with tofu and stir-fried vegetables
  • Cottage cheese with berries and nuts

It’s important to eat a meal or snack that is high in protein and carbohydrates to help replenish your energy stores and aid in muscle recovery. Try to eat your meal or snack within 30 minutes to an hour after your workout for optimal recovery and energy.

Bottom Line

Eating before and after working out is essential for optimal performance and recovery. Make sure to eat a balanced meal or snack that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats before and after your workout. 

Experiment with different foods and timing to find what works best for your body and exercise routine. Remember, fueling your body properly can help you to reach your fitness goals and feel your best.