Fitness Nutrition 101: What To Eat Pre- & Post- Workout

Banana snack

Nowadays people are more stressed than ever with very little free time. Therefore, it is important to make the most out of daily exercise. Pre- and post-workout foods are key. The challenge: there is a general misconception about what foods and nutrients actually do for recovery and reaching your workout goals. A study among fitness enthusiasts shows, for instance, that half of the participants think that consuming carbohydrates after a workout can lead to less optimal results. Moreover, one-third of the participants don’t want to consume any calories at all directly after a workout.

A woman in sports clothes is drinking a green smoothie and holding a smartphone in her hand

When googling “pre- & post-workout foods,” you get more than 3.5 million results. But what’s actually hard to find is an easy and comprehensive overview of what happens to the body when working out, why the kind of workout you do matters and how that relates to what needs to be on your grocery shopping list.

Nutrition can push your workout to the next level

Your body needs energy to function & perform during your workout. By burning the three major macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat and protein), your body gains energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the most important energy source for your body.

If energy isn’t needed, it is stored as creatine phosphate, glycogen and fat. Depending on the intensity of your workout and how quickly you need an energy boost, you’ll get it from ATP.

Workout nutrition infographic

Pre-workout food

Food is fuel. A pre-workout snack is needed to power you through your run so you can complete it feeling strong. Get it wrong and you will feel it. Eat too much and your stomach will let you know when you up the intensity. Too little and you’ll ‘bonk’ and finish feeling weak. Keep it simple and balanced with adequate hydration.

Workout nutrition infographic

These recipes are perfect before your workout:

Cardio:

Strength:

Post-workout food

What you eat after you work out is just as important as what you eat before. Skip a post-workout snack or meal and you’ll slow down your ability to recover. This can range from feeling sore the next day and having to cancel your workout, to feeling exhausted over the coming days and not performing at your best.

Protein is important after training. You need it for muscle repair and recovery after an intense workout. More isn’t always better: your body can’t store excessive amounts of protein — the extra amounts will get stored as fat.

Workout nutrition infographic

These recipes are perfect after your workout:

Cardio:

Strength:

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Julia Denner Runtastic dietitian Julia is a creative cook. She is convinced that a varied diet and regular exercise are the keys to success. View all posts by Julia Denner »

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