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What Do I eat Before and After Working Out?

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

Dietitian - Nutritionist, Maryann Gallucci, with great recommendations for pre and post workout snacks

By Maryann Gallucci

Timing your pre and post workout meals will help to reach your fitness goals!

Whether your goal is weight loss, weight maintenance or weight or muscle gain, it is important to fuel your body both before and after working out. Consider it a critical part of your training.

Not eating before training can make you dizzy, lightheaded, nauseated and negatively impact your workout. Carbohydrates are the fuel for your “engine”. The harder your engine is working, the more carbs you need to keep your engine running.

When we eat carbs, it breaks down to glucose and we store it as glycogen both in the liver and muscle. This gives us the stored fuel to exercise at our maximum capacity.

I also recommend protein in your pre-workout snack. Protein is needed to help build and repair your muscles. A small snack or mini meal before training should suffice. Getting a combination of protein and carbs 30 minutes (for a snack) to 3 hours (for a well-balanced meal) before training.

Here are some pre-workout snack ideas:

  • An apple or pear with either almond or peanut butter

  • Greek yogurt and berries

  • Dried fruit with mixed nuts

  • Granola Bar

  • Oatmeal with berries and peanut butter

The most important thing to remember when choosing your pre-workout food is to choose something that is easy to digest and that won’t upset your stomach. This, as well as the best time to eat for your body will take some experimenting.

Stay hydrated and drink water! Be sure to restore fluid and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) lost through sweat. Drink 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising. Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise. Drink 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise.

Eating after a workout is also important. Post workout meals should be within 30 minutes to 1 hour after training. Refueling after a workout provides your body nutrients necessary to recover from the exertion. Protein is necessary to help build and repair your muscles. When you strength train (lifting weights) you create tiny tears in the muscles fibers. When you rest, your body repairs those micro-tears, which helps muscles grow bigger and stronger than they were before.

Post-workout foods include a combination of a complex carbohydrate and a lean protein:

Complex carbs: quinoa, brown rice, nuts, Whole wheat bread

Lean Proteins: Fish, beans, tofu, turkey breast

Post-workout meals ideas:

  • Veggie omelette with avocado or fat-free feta cheese

  • 4 ounces of fish (halibut, trout, salmon, lemon sole, etc.) with brown rice and steamed spinach or asparagus.

  • 7 inch whole wheat pita stuffed with grilled veggies and 2 tablespoons of hummus

  • Quinoa with tuna in olive oil, string beans, roasted red pepper and a hard-boiled egg

  • Cottage cheese and berries or pineapple

Being mindful of your food choices before and after a workout will help you maximize the benefits of your hard work.


About Dietitian Nutritionist, Maryann Gallucci

MS, RDN, CDN, ACSM-EP-C, ACE-Health Coach.

✔️ Works in Private Practice providing nutrition counseling and fitness training.

✔️ Awarded “2021 Long Island Dietitian of the Year” by the Long Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

✔️ Adjunct Lecturer in the Family, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences Department at Queens College.

✔️ Serves as the Nutrition Services and Payment Specialist Co-chair for the Long Island

✔️ Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

✔️A member of multiple Dietetic Practice Groups.


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