What to Eat Before and After a Workout?
Anuja Dani

Anuja Dani

May 04Nutrition

What to Eat Before and After a Workout?

Optimal nutrient intake before and post-workout not only help you maximize your performance but also minimizes muscle damage and fatigue. Good nutrition helps you perform better and recover faster after each workout or rather prevent serious injuries.

Here is everything you need to know about pre and post-workout nutrition.

What to eat before a workout?

Not eating enough before a workout can make you dizzy, lightheaded, nauseated, or lethargic. It can also make you more likely to injure yourself. 

  1. Schedule your pre-workout meal

The ideal time to eat is between 30 minutes to two hours before your workout. This gives you enough time to digest so you don’t hit the gym half-filled and rather utilize the calories fully. 

  1. Keep yourself hydrated - Drink a glass of water every 15 to 30 minutes of intense physical activity, especially if you are sweating too or are working out in a heated environment. 
  2. Eat a carb-rich snack- Carbs break down into glucose which gives us fuel to exercise at our maximum capacity. Eating carbs before working out ensures that you'll some extra glucose stored in case you need it to replenish it. 
  3. Supplement your carb intake with protein- Strength training exercises create small tears in our muscle fibres. Protein consumption helps the body repair those micro-tears, strengthening your muscles.

Here is a list of few nutritious foods that you can eat before your daily workout session to make the most out of it.

  • Oats

Oats contain fibre, proteins, and minerals magnesium, manganese, selenium, and phosphorus in huge amounts. They slowly release sugar into the bloodstream, providing energy throughout the workout. Also, they have beta-glucan which reduces the levels of bad cholesterol. 

  • Bananas

Bananas are rich in carbohydrates, potassium, and manganese that help in preventing muscle cramps caused during workouts. Manganese is good for bone strengthening, helps in metabolism and smooth functioning of nerves. 

  • Whole Wheat Bread and Eggs

Whole wheat or multigrain bread provides carbohydrates while the eggs are rich in protein and vitamins like A, E, K, and B12, minerals like calcium, iron, and amino acids which help in muscle growth. 

  • Fruit Smoothies

Fruit smoothies are a nutrient-rich source before a workout. Fruits like mango, banana, watermelon contain carbohydrates and sugars, and protein is obtained from milk or yoghurt. Fruits have a high glycemic index i.e., they are metabolized quicker and provide a quick boost of energy. Protein helps in muscle strengthening. 

  • Coffee

Coffee enhances metabolism and instructs muscles to use up carbohydrates stored in fat cells, reducing body fat content in the body. It also improves mental focus and performance in athletes helping them train harder and longer. 


What to eat after a workout?

Eating after a workout is all about replacing the calories you used up. A post-workout meal helps to replenish the glycogen that has been depleted during your exercise and speedy muscle recovery, particularly after weight training. 

  1. Rehydrate -Rehydrating helps in Replenishing the fluids you lost while sweating during a workout. Drinking enough water after exercise depends on many factors, like the length and intensity of the workout, the environmental conditions, etc. 
  2. Eat a snack as soon as you finish your workout- Working out uses up all the energy it needs to function optimally. A post-workout meal helps to get energy and repairs and strengthens the muscles of the body.  
  3. Take carbs and protein- Your post-workout meal should contain complex carbohydrates that break down slowly and are loaded with healthy protein to replenish the lost glycogen and retain muscle strength.

Here is a list of a few nutritious foods that you can eat after your daily workout session.

  • Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are rich in carbohydrates and antioxidant nutrients like beta-carotene that protects the body against free radical produced during the workout. They also contain vitamin D and potassium which aid in an energy boost and help relieve muscle cramps and injuries, if any, caused during the workout.

  • Dried Fruits and Nuts

Nuts contain proteins while dried fruits are a great source of easily digestible carbohydrates. They also supply muscle glycogen better than complex carbohydrates.

  • Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants which help to boost energy after an intense body workout. Blueberries can boost the rate of recovery after a workout.

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

PBJ sandwich contains proteins and carbohydrates- between 20 to 30 grams and 55 to 65 grams, respectively. It can help you refuel your exhausted body quickly. 

  • Orange Juice

Orange juice is a great source of vitamin D and potassium that supply energy and helps in restoring the fluid level of the body post-exercise. 

  • Green Tea

Green tea contains antioxidants that metabolize fat and fight exercise-induced free radicals that would otherwise cause muscle soreness and inflammation.

  • Avocados

Avocados are rich in good fat that helps heal sore muscles and joints. Besides fat, they also contain Vitamin B, which helps in metabolizing the carbohydrates and proteins that you have been consuming. 

  • Grilled Chicken with Vegetables

Grilled chicken and vegetables in faster recovery after a strenuous exercise session when our body is drained out of energy and fluids. They are full of wholesome nutrients that restore protein and carbohydrates in the body.

  • Chocolate Milk

Chocolate milk has double the number of carbohydrates and protein compared to any sports drink or plain milk. It revitalizes the tired muscles and contains calcium, sodium, and sugar that help regain energy.

  • Kiwi

Kiwi has more vitamins and minerals per gram than any other fruit. It is rich in vitamin C, potassium, fibres, and antioxidants that help relieve muscle soreness.

  • Cereal with Milk

It is a rich source of carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, and calcium that is vital for muscle recovery and energy. In addition, it also replenishes the post-workout fluid needs to a certain extent.

Final Words

Everyone's body is different and will have specific nutritional needs and preferences. While consuming a variety of foods is important, it is not a good idea to experiment with any nutritional changes on days with intense exercises. Regardless of what you eat, it is important to balance workouts and your meals in the right proportions. 

Disclaimer: This information is educational and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or adding supplements.

Proactive For Her is a digital clinic for women, offering accessible, personalised, and confidential healthcare solutions. We offer out-patient care, diagnostic services and programs for various health concerns of Indian women, across their lifetime - from puberty to pregnancy to menopause.