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Best Foods to Eat Before and After Your Workout

Posted on 09/27/2018

Best Foods To Eat Before And After A Workout

Like a car uses gas to run, your body burns food for energy. And if you fill your body with the right type of fuel, you can expect better results from your workouts. The right foods and drink can give you energy to power through a grueling run or an intense fitness class. 

Before a Workout

Be Sure to Hydrate

If you’re not hydrated, your body can’t perform at its peak level. So be sure to guzzle water before a workout, at least 2-3 cups. This is important whether you’re a serious athlete or simply exercise for recreation.

Water regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints while transporting nutrients to give you energy. Lack of proper to hydration before exercise may cause you to feel tired, have muscle cramps or dizziness. One of the best ways to judge your hydration level, before and after workouts, is by the color of your urine. If you are well hydrated, urine will be clear to very pale yellow. If you are dehydrated, urine will be dark yellow or amber colored. 

Snacks with Carbohydrates and Protein 

Aim to have a snack or meal 1 to 3 hours before your workout. If you are exercising after a large meal, be sure to have that meal at least 3 hours before exercise. Snacks should include a combination of easily digestible carbohydrates and some protein. Good examples include: 

  • Oatmeal with Fruit: For a morning workout, try to include some healthy oatmeal topped with fresh fruit. The carbohydrates in the oatmeal and fruit will fuel a great morning workout. 
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly: Proteins from whole wheat bread and peanut butter combine to make complete proteins. Add in some easily digestible carbohydrates from fruit jelly and bread and you have an ideal fuel source for your workout. A half sandwich is really all you need too. 
  • Trail Mix: The combination of unsalted nuts for healthy protein, and easily digestible carbohydrates from dried fruits makes trail mix the perfect portable snack before a workout. 
  • Smoothie: Simply puree some of your favorite fresh (or frozen) fruit, milk or whey-based drink, yogurt and honey to sweeten it up. Go ahead and throw some veggies in there too for a nutrient boost. Find your favorite combination for a perfect on the go snack before a workout. 

After a Workout

After a workout, a higher percentage of protein content becomes more important. You’ll want to rebuild those muscles after exhausting them. Healthy fats and healthy carbohydrates are also essential to working into a meal. 

Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat Suggestions: 

  • Fats: Nuts, nut butters or avocado
  • Carbs: Brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, oatmeal and quinoa
  • Chicken, salmon, eggs, pork loin, turkey breast, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese and milk 

Putting it together; Meal Suggestions Post Workout 

  • Chocolate Milk: If you are in a time crunch, no need to worry. A glass of chocolate milk is the perfect after workout drink as it contains a healthy amount of protein, carbohydrates and nutrients to help with refueling. 
  • Grilled chicken with brown rice and roasted vegetables.
  • Egg omelet with avocado spread on toast
  • Salmon with sweet potato
  • Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread
  • Pita, vegetables and hummus

Get the most out of your workouts by beginning and ending with the right fuel on board. Food can be a very powerful tool to achieving your workout goals!

For more healthy living tips, be sure to check out the Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating Blog or our Healthy Beat Videos. Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating is committed to keeping you healthy through calculated, low-fat meals plans and actionable healthy living tips.

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Rene Ficek, RDN, CDE

Grew up in the food industry and took that love of healthy eating to earn her degree in nutrition. She has worked as a registered dietitian for 6 years and has been with SSHE since 2013, providing nutrition analysis and meal planning. Her special interests in weight management and diabetes, helps patients manage their weight and health conditions. She enjoys an active lifestyle, as well as time in the kitchen. Rene’s favorite SSHE meal is the Thai Noodle Salad.

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