When you exercise, you want optimal results. This means consuming the right food before and
after a workout. You’ve been given mixed messages in the past about what’s best for you – from
eating nothing to only having a protein shake to eating anything you want (because of post-
workout doesn’t count, right?). In this article, you’re going to get the truth on what to eat before
and after a workout, and why it matters.
Before a workout
Eating before a workout is important to have the right amount of strength and energy in the gym.
Not eating enough can make you dizzy, lightheaded, or lethargic. Eating before a workout can
get complicated, because it matters how long before your workout you’re eating, and what
you’ve eaten in the day.
A good meal before a workout consists of carbohydrates, protein, and some fats approximately
2 hours before your workout. The reason why all 3 are important comes from this website:
“Carbs help maximize glycogen stores for high-intensity exercise, while fat helps fuel your body
for longer, less intense workouts. Meanwhile, protein improves muscle protein synthesis and
The usual chicken and rice combination works well here, or go for brown bread with eggs, or
brown pasta with any type of meat or fish. Avoid a lot of saturated fats here, as they digest
slower in your stomach, which means less oxygen to your muscles.
If you’re only able to eat an hour or less before, generally, go for a smaller meal. Usually, a
protein shake, greek yoghurt, or a piece of fruit will do.
Also, drink plenty of water before a workout. If you step into the gym and you’re thirsty, this will
affect your energy and strength. Regularly drink water throughout the day, rather than trying to
force it in 5 minutes before you exercise – unfortunately it doesn’t work that way!
After a workout
You’ve worked hard, and now it’s important to fuel up. This meal is just as important as the meal
before you workout. Getting in the right nutrients after exercise can help you rebuild your muscle
proteins and glycogen stores. It also helps the growth of new muscle.
Eat something as soon as possible. This meal should be high in complex carbohydrates (think
brown bread, brown rice, brown pasta), and protein for the torn muscles (fish, chicken, beef,
tofu). You can go for the same meals mentioned above when it came to eating 2-3 hours before
Finally, keep drinking plenty of water.
You can learn more in this article about why it’s important to eat after working out, and there’s
more examples of food you can eat.
This article on what to eat before and after a workout has some guidelines on what could work
for you. Although it can help, everyone is an individual, so what works for one person may not
work for the next. Therefore, it’s important to experiment with different meals, and meal timing
before and after a workout, to see what works well for you for optimal results.
I’m Ravi – a qualified personal trainer and fitness blogger, who teaches people how to transform
their bodies and lives through fitness and nutrition. I’m also the CEO of Sports Samurai, an
online store selling high-quality gym bags – you don’t want to miss these, so click the link. Feel
free to like us on Facebook here for more articles, tips, and product information.