Top 4 Eating Tips to Maximize Your Workout

By Joe Martinez, RPh, PDE, PPC, Founder and CCO, HMS
Contributor: Emily Simmons

We all know that getting a good workout depends on many different factors. One is what fuel we put into our body. How well we eat, before AND after a workout influences how we will perform during a workout and how well our muscles will recover afterwards.

Here are a few tips for what to eat and drink before and after to help you get the best workout possible:

Tip 1: Always eat and hydrate before training.  In fact, fluids are VERY important. A great drink of choice would be pure coconut water from fresh young coconuts.  Coconut water is full of electrolytes and other minerals that are needed before and after your workout. If fresh coconuts are not available, there are many bottled sources that you can find in your local grocery stores. Be on the lookout however, as many bottled brands add sugars and other chemicals that your body does not need. There are many brands available where the only ingredient listed is coconut water – this is the brand you want to buy. Leave the other stuff on the shelf.

Tip 2: For a pre-workout meal, it is recommended to eat foods that are high in healthy carbohydrates and moderate in protein. The good kind or carbohydrates can be found in vegetables, whole fruits (bananas), legumes (green peas), potatoes and whole grains, NOT bread or pasta.

Note: it’s best to always check with your healthcare professional, especially if you have diabetes or a medical condition.  

Healthy carbs are a major piece of our pre-workout meal because they assure us that we will have enough glucose on hand to get us through our workout. Carbs = energy. When you do not consume enough carbs, then you may begin feeling dizzy and light headed. The best choice of carbs are of course, your unrefined carbs that will not spike your blood glucose levels but steadily and slowly release the energy that your body needs.

It is best to fill up the energy gas tank at least 2 to 4 hours pre-workout. If you don’t have the time to eat a meal before your workout, then grab a snack, preferably a fast digesting carbohydrate like a granola bar, crackers, bananas, grapes, nut butters or raisins.   These are all great choices if you only have about 1-2 hours before your workout.

Tip 3: Always eat AFTER a workout. What you eat after your workout is just as important as what you eat beforehand. If you miss eating after a workout, you’ll find it harder to reach your goals because your body uses up its glycogen storage and breaks down protein instead when you workout.  This is why it’s important to fuel our bodies with the correct nutrients — to help build our glycogen storage and metabolize proteins at a faster rate. This also helps to build new muscle.

Here are some suggestions for foods that are high in ‘good’ carbs and good sources of protein too: 
  1. Good carbs:  Oatmeal, Sweet potatoes, long grain rice, etc.
  2.  Good proteins:  Quinoa, whole eggs, chicken, lentils, etc.

Tip 4 – No fats or fiber directly before or after a workout. 

Personal trainer Andrea Boldt advises against eating foods that are high in fat and fiber directly before and after a workout. These foods slow digestion and can cause an upset stomach before a workout.  It is best to wait at least two hours after a workout to eat these.

Now, if the day is busy and you don’t have time, energy or interest in cooking, here are some delicious, ready-to-eat choices from Healthy Meals Supreme that will help you to power up before and after exercise.



Wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving!

* Always check with your doctor or healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.

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