overview of dumbell jumprope and protein drinkWhat you eat before your workout will have a significant impact on how you perform during your workout and will even affect how long you can endure your workout. For these reasons, you should never skip pre-workout fueling. And the same is true for fueling your body after a workout; a good post-workout snack will restore the vitamins that your body just lost and aid in muscle recovery, making it something that you should never miss. Here is what you need to know about fueling both before and after a workout.

Before a workout

Though you might be working to squeeze in a workout during your lunchbreak or before you leave for work, you should plan on eating about one hour before you exercise. As a general rule, the less time you have between your pre-workout snack and the beginning your workout, the simpler your snack should be. So, if your pre-workout snack contains protein, fiber, and fat, for example, you should plan on eating at least an hour—preferably more—before your workout, as these things take longer to digest. If you’re in a time crunch and find that you’ll have to enjoy your pre-workout snack within that one-hour window, on the other hand, you should opt for something that can be digested more quickly, such as a piece of fruit.

A good pre-workout snack is limited to about 200 calories and won’t make you feel stuffed. It should contain a combination of complex and simple carbohydrates, as well as some protein. It should also be low in fat and fiber. Here are some examples of a good pre-workout snack:

  • a slice of whole wheat toast topped with natural peanut butter, banana slices, and cinnamon

  • plain, low-fat yogurt with dried fruit

  • a smoothie made with Greek yogurt and your favorite fruit

  • oatmeal with fresh fruit

  • apple slices dipped in natural almond butter or peanut butter

After a workout

You should definitely eat something rich in protein and carbohydrates within two hours following a workout in order to aid in muscle recovery. Taking in carbohydrates is especially important within the first 15 minutes or so for replenishing your muscle glycogen supply, which is the fuel your body uses during a workout. You have more leeway in terms of fat and fiber after your workout since you’ll have more time to digest your food.

A good post-workout snack will be between 200 and 400 calories, depending on how hard you worked out and when you will be eating next. Here are some examples of a good post-workout snack:

  • chocolate milk

  • grilled chicken and mixed vegetables

  • whey protein shake

  • whole wheat toast topped with a scrambled egg and avocado

  • energy bar paired with your favorite fruit