When it comes to exercise, one of the questions I get asked most often is “what should I be eating right before and after I exercise?” The most important thing to remember is, what you eat can affect how you feel during a workout and how well and quickly your body is able to recover afterwards. Therefore, it is important to provide your body with enough energy and the essential nutrients needed to be physically active and to perform well. Knowing what to eat before and after exercise might be confusing and difficult at first, but it doesn’t have to be!
Here are a few strategies to follow to ensure proper timing of meals before exercising:
Here are some general guidelines about meals or snacks before exercising:
Here are some pre-exercise snack ideas:
Directly after a workout, what you need to worry about the most is replenishing liquids and making sure your snack or meal contains carbohydrates with about 15-25 grams of protein. Eating protein and carbohydrates after a workout helps maximize recovery and will help you be able to continue workouts in the days to come.
If you have fewer than 8 hours between workouts or competitions you should start consuming carbohydrate immediately after the first exercise session; however, if you have longer periods of recovery between workouts or competitions it doesn’t matter how carbohydrate intake is spaced, as long as you are eating adequate carbohydrate, protein, and overall energy throughout the day.
Here are some post-exercise snack ideas that contain protein and carbohydrates needed for optimal repair:
I hope these gave you some great ideas for fueling your body before and after your workouts! Happy exercising – and fueling!
Allison Tropf, MS, RD, CSSD
Allison is a Sports Dietitian in Michigan. She enjoys helping others reach their nutrition and fitness goals through reliable and trustworthy recommendations.
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