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The best fitness foods: What to eat before, during and after a workout

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., April 16, 2012 - 11:11am

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Brierley asks: What do you eat before, during or after you exercise?


If I have at least 1-2 hours before I workout,
I will eat some oatmeal with dried fruit (apricots,
craisins, raisins, .....). Water to hydrate and coffee
right before. If I don't have time for a meal,
just a piece of fruit (banana, apple, peach,...)
and some coffee. During my workout I stay hydrated
with water. Post work-out its soy chocolate milk
with a 5 to 1 carb to protein ratio, a cliff bar with a 4 to 1 ratio, or
a bowl of Kashi cereal. About a hour later it's yogurt
with frozen blueberries and a sprinkle of Kashi cereal
with a protein shake of soy protein with a banana and
some frozen fruit and soy milk.
When I bike, usually 2-3 hours, I will either have
oatmeal with dried fruit or a cliff bar before. During
the ride I will have fruit first (apples,grapes,banana, etc...)
then maybe a cliff bar if needed. I stay hydrated with
Heed drink or cytomax, alternating with water.
Post workout is generally the same.


10/04/2012 - 11:59pm

Any nutrition article that advocates eating margarine or corn flakes is discredited from that point on to me.


07/25/2012 - 2:07pm

Because of the unusual and often extreme physical demands of my job (I am a Special Operations Operator with my state's prison system - we could be participating in a variety of environments for extende durations), my exercise regemin I just as varied. I train like a runner 3 days each week with cardio - sometimes wearing as much as a 60-pound load during extended cross-country treks, and others wearing a gas mask in an effort to restrict oxygen flow. The other 3 workouts are similar to what you would see from a powerlifter - extreme weight / low reps one week, moderately low weight with high reps the next. I have found that this approach has allowed me to remain in the absolute best physical condition possible for whatever circumstances may arise. That being said, my pre-workout meal is usually liquid. Coffee and 16oz of water. Exercising after eating makes me naseous, so I tend to skip foods till after. After, my goal is to replenish the glycogen stores, infuse extra protein, and hydrate. A Nitro-Tech protein shake made with milk, honey, oat meal, and a small amount of natural fruit chunks seems to do the trick. I tend to follow a form of carbohydrate back-loading during the rest of the day with the carb immediately after workouts and near bed-time.


06/27/2012 - 9:46am

I ride about 45 min (15km) to work starting between 6:00 and 6:15 in the morning, too early to have a meal 2-3 hrs before so I have been making a protein shake (almond milk plus the powder) to have when I get to work. Is this a good choice? If not, can you suggest something else that I can pack?


06/19/2012 - 12:22pm

I found this very interesting and very very helpful as im on 2 hours of workouts routine daily now. Im also running on trademills and doing machins and 1hour os cardio n yoga workouts. I usually dont have anything in between my workout xpt plain water in a low amount time to time. Im usually empty stomach while I workout. Sometimes, Im jus having a cup of tea before xercising which has half tea spoon of sugar and sometimes no sugars. I dont only want to stay fit but i also want to lose weight. Im also doing muscular building workouts, what should i xactly eat ???
Im eating without carb food. Usually veggies and boiled chicken. Ive skipped wheat n rice. IS that fine? how much milk do i have to drink a day?
ols guide me if u can.


06/06/2012 - 11:18am

I always try to have my protein meals right after a work out, since I haven't been able to take whey protein for financial reasons (they are being resolved, but I'm not getting derailed). Not sure how others feel about it, but a high protein meal really keeps me going for longer after a workout.


05/19/2012 - 4:47pm

This is tough, it all depends on your goals and what kind of workout your doing. For me

-about an hour before peanut butter sandwich, good whole gain bread, water

- during, water with a little whey protein and coffee grinds

- about 30 min. after, a whole food meal with a mix of pasta/rice, veggies and protein with diluted fruit juice


04/25/2012 - 9:46am

before: handful trail mix or some granola.
during:just water... unless the workout is longer than a hour then maybe a GU energy pack
after: 1.5 cup skim milk + 1 scoop whey protein + frozen fruit. chocolate milk has too much added sugar for me.


04/24/2012 - 3:55pm

That's some solid advice you've given there. However - as an armchair nutritionist - I've always been of the opinion that high proteins is what you should be aiming for after a workout. Isn't that the logic behind most people into fitness recommending whey protein with that 'magical' window post workout? What would you have to say about that?



04/24/2012 - 1:14pm

I feel like all of these meals are basically sugar - so eat sugar (as carbohydrates converts to sugar) before, during, and after workouts?


04/24/2012 - 12:50pm

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