Get the Skinny: What to eat pre- and post-workout

It’s one of the biggest questions we get:  What should I eat before and after a workout?  Today we’re Getting the Skinny with Sports Dietitian Molly Kimball on her recommendations for pre- and post-workout fueling.

Factors 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.




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.


Want more from Molly?  Click here to sign up for Nutrition Bites, her weekly e-newsletter with links to her Get the Skinny TV segments here on WGNO, and her weekly column in|The Times-Picayune!   And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram:  @MollyKimballRD