Whether you’re focusing on getting stronger, faster, or more agile, improving cardiovascular health, or simply looking to drop a couple of pounds, the foods you eat before and after you exercise can make or break your workout. Without properly fueling beforehand, you may not be able to push through the more challenging parts of the workout; and without properly refueling afterward, you won’t maximize muscle growth and recovery. Plus, there's a greater chance you’ll overeat later in the day.
Just like you plan workouts into your schedule, plan your snacks. Your cup of coffee may hold you through an hour, but don’t rely on it to keep you going. It's best to eat a balanced snack or meal before and after exercising.
Here are five delicious options to fuel your body before or after a workout.
Yogurt and Berries
3/4 cup Greek yogurt + 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips + fresh berries (such as raspberries and blueberries)
If you have a sweet craving, try this pre- or post-workout snack: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt offers 13 grams of muscle-building protein, while fresh berries contain anthocyanins, an antioxidant that fights muscle soreness. The dark chocolate chips also have antioxidant properties, but I throw them in because they taste good—and who doesn’t need a little chocolate in their day!
Nuts are a good option for a pre- or post-workout snack. A bag of Blue Diamond Crafted Gourmet Almonds contains five 1-ounce servings. Each ounce (1/4 cup) of almonds contains 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein, not to mention heart-healthy fats.
Hard-Boiled Egg and Crackers
Whole-grain crackers are a source of slow-burning energy, and an egg is a perfect source of high-quality protein. Add in vegetables whenever you can—they provide valuable micronutrients that can also promote recovery.
3/4 cup cooked oatmeal + 1 tablespoon nut/seed butter + cinnamon + small latte
Oatmeal is a fiber-rich source of whole grains and provides lasting energy to make it through a long run or a Pilates class. The addition of nut butter adds wonderful flavor, as well as a moderate amount of protein and healthy fats to jumpstart recovery. Cinnamon has been shown to help stabilize your blood sugar, so it’s great for offsetting any dips in blood sugar, which can lead to lower energy and more cravings; plus, the warming spice adds another dimension to the oatmeal.
Chips, Salsa, and String Cheese
10 tortilla chips + pico de gallo + string cheese
Pre-workout snacks don’t have to be boring—or breakfasty. A combination like this provides carbohydrates, protein, and a small amount of fat to keep you going.