Before, During, and After a Workout: What Should You Eat?

To keep your body healthy, you need to both exercise and eat well. In fact, the foods you eat before, during, and after a workout greatly affect the quality of your exercise. You need the right fuel for your body, as well as foods that repair it. If you want to make your regular workouts more effective, consider eating the following foods at the right time.

Before the Workout

There are many people who get up in the morning and start their workout before they even eat. This is not necessarily bad for you, but regularly exercising on an empty stomach will prevent you from sustaining effective exercises. You will tire more easily. Even if you do not want to eat before working out in the morning, have just a small amount to hold you over. Small foods like eggs, yogurt and fruits, toast with peanut butter, or cereal and milk are a great way to start.

If you prefer to exercise later in the day, you should eat within four hours to an hour before your workout. The best foods you can eat are the carbohydrate-rich ones. Carbohydrates improve endurance exercise because they give your muscles the fuel they need to keep going. This includes low-fat granola bars, fig bars, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, bananas, yogurt, and pastas. It is also important to stay hydrated before you exercise.

During the Workout

Depending on how long and how intense your workout is, the food and fluids you consume will differ slightly. If you plan to exercise for 45 minutes or less, fluids should be all you need to keep going. For endurance exercises lasting an hour to two and a half hours, you should consume 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. This will give your muscles the ability to keep going longer. As an example, a medium-sized apple contains about 25 grams of carbohydrates.

It is also crucial to stay hydrated through your workout. Drink plenty of water, but not too much. You may also want sports drinks or juices for endurance exercises. You will want to consume more liquids than solid food because you bodies digest liquids much easier. Solid food tends to sit on the stomach, making some people uncomfortable while they exercise.

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After the Workout

What you eat after a workout is just as important as what you consume before and during it. Within an hour of finishing a high-intensity workout, you need to consume 15 to 25 grams of protein. You can find it in foods like dairy products, eggs, poultry, and other meats. For example, one hard-boiled egg contains about six grams of protein. For lighter exercises, just make sure you have a well-balanced meal, including a good amount of protein and carbohydrates. You should also drink plenty of water in the few hours afterward to replace all the fluids you lost while exercising.

The best thing to remember when thinking about your post-workout meal is three R’s. Consume fluids to rehydrate, carbohydrates to refuel, and protein to repair. If you keep this in mind, you will have no problem keeping your body ready to sustain a workout.


Exercising, in all its different forms, is healthy and keeps your body working well. It also releases endorphins, which keeps you happier. It is great to make this a regular part of your lifestyle, but it will do you even more good if you eat right. The foods you consume before, during, and after a workout make all the difference. 

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Lacey Jolley

I love exploring, experiencing new places, and eating good food! I'm amazed every day at how well the Earth provides for us, and I want to return the favor. I hope to help others learn how we can make our world a better, cleaner place.

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