What To Eat Before And After A Workout

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Optimize your workout with proper nutrition!

Don’t you love that post-workout feeling? Doing something positive for your health and wellness gives you such a great sense of accomplishment, and it doesn’t hurt that your treadmill helps to reinforce euphoric feelings by telling you that you just burned 200 calories.

Those good-feeling hormones called endorphins begin flooding the brain, making you feel as though you can tackle anything the day throws at you. You can continue this momentum with pre- and post-workout foods that can greatly influence not only your performance, but also optimal muscle growth and development.

One to four hours before 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity, try a light snack with whole grains and lean protein to help prevent a spike and a subsequent crash in blood sugar levels. For example, one whole wheat English muffin topped with 1 to 2 tablespoons of nut butter would be perfect. If you train more vigorously and for longer periods, add a serving of fruit, like a banana or apple before your workout. Another idea is ½ cup of whole grain cereal topped with sliced almonds and lowfat milk.

Within 30 minutes after finishing your workout, consume some additional whole grains and lean protein such as one to two large hard-boiled eggs with a slice of lightly buttered whole wheat toast. Or try ¼ cup of lowfat cottage cheese topped with ¼ cup of fresh or frozen berries. Either can help lead to improved athletic performance and possibly enhanced muscle growth.

Don’t forget hydration! All of the above recommendations should be consumed with water. Sports drinks (i.e. Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) can be consumed for those with a history of hypoglycemia, diabetes and for endurance athletes who participate in high-intensity activity for more than one hour at a time. It is always advised that you consult your naturopath for more personalized guidance.


By Neal Malik, DrPH, MPH, RDN, CHES, EP-C, associate professor, Master of Science in Nutrition for Wellness program at Bastyr University California.