It’s one of the biggest questions we get: What should I eat before and after a workout? The answer varies widely by individual, but there a few common elements to consider:
- Intensity and duration of workout
- Time of day
- What else you’ve had to eat, or plan to eat
- Workout goals: weight loss, muscle gains, enhanced performance and recovery
May not need anything special: Frequent protein-rich meals and snacks throughout the day are often sufficient
Plan for digestion: At least 30 minutes after a full meal, 30-60 minutes for a smaller snack.
Hydration always essential. Molly often recommends low-sugar electrolyte-rich sports drinks like nuun and SOS.
LIGHT WORKOUT | 1 hour or less
Pre-workout: Most of us don’t need specific fuel for these lighter workouts; may benefit from a protein/fat to take edge off of hunger.
- Hardboiled egg or handful of nuts or seeds
Post-workout: Most people will be fine waiting until next meal/snack.
MODERATE TO INTENSE WORKOUT | 1 hour or less
Pre-workout: A snack or small meal, including protein + carbs, mostly to take the edge off of hunger
- Fresh fruit + Greek yogurt with little or no added sugar
- Almond butter + apple slices or crackers
Post-workout: 1:1 blend of carb and protein within 30 to 60 minutes
- Protein shake: 20 grams whey or plant-based protein + unsweetened almond milk + berries or ½ banana
MODERATE TO INTENSE WORKOUT | 60-90 minutes or more
Pre-workout: Step-up intake because we have a limited reserve of carbohydrates to fuel our bodies.
- Banana + half or whole sandwich on whole grain (turkey and cheese or almond butter and honey)
- Breakfast sandwich with whole grain bread, egg, cheese, turkey + fresh fruit
Post-workout: 4:1 blend of carb and protein within 30 to 60 minutes
- Protein shake with 20 grams whey protein powder blended with unsweetened almond milk, banana berries and honey
NOTE: If you have diabetes or other dietary or health issues, talk with your physician and a registered dietitian to develop a nutrition plan to meet your needs. See Molly’s full column re. pre- and post-workout here.