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

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

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.

 

##

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.

###

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 NOLA.com|The Times-Picayune!   And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram:  @MollyKimballRD