What You Need To Eat Before And After Exercising

Published on 07/29/2019

A big part of getting into shape or getting fit is, of course, nutrition. When it comes to working out, what you eat before and after is crucial to how quickly your body recovers and also builds muscle. One thing to take into account when you’re fueling your body for a workout or replenishing it after one is macronutrients. It sounds like a scary and complicated word, but essentially it just means the components that make up each food. Examples of macronutrients are carbs, protein, and fat. These things can affect your body in different ways and in turn, affect your workout. Because of this, it’s important to keep these things in mind when you’re making a pre or post-workout meal and to take a moment to think of which macronutrients your body needs at the time.

Before a Workout

First thing before you go and workout is making sure you give your body the right fuel in order to maximize your workout and improve your performance. Depending on how soon before your workout you choose to eat, here are some things to take into consideration when making a pre-workout meal.


Carbs are essential to the muscles, as they use them for fuel. For short and high-intensity workouts, the body uses carbs as the main source of energy, which is why many athletes like swimmers and runners do something called ‘carb-loading’ at times to maintain the high energy level they need during their workouts. In these cases, these kinds of athletes at times can eat more carbs than body-builders. Carbs also help with muscle recovery after a workout.


Protein also aids in building muscle, which is why meals including protein and carbs before a workout are great as they can also increase muscle performance during the workout itself. In addition to this, protein is also a good macronutrient that helps repair muscle tissue faster. This, in turn, can increase the body’s strength.


Fat can make people somewhat apprehensive when it comes to getting into shape or losing weight. All the same, it is an essential part in getting to those goals. As a matter of act, fat can help fuel the body for longer and less intense workouts as it takes longer to digest and break down. While eating too much fat is not recommended, it does have benefits as well.


The best time to eat before a workout is 2-3 hours before. In this case, it is good to eat a full and balanced meal containing carbs, protein, and fat. When you can’t eat a full meal so early, just keep on mind that the closer you eat to your workout, the smaller and simpler the meal needs to be so you don’t get discomfort in your stomach while exercising.

What To Eat 2-3 Hours Before

Examples of meals that are good 2-3 hours before exercising are:
A sandwich on whole-grain bread with lean protein and a side salad.
An egg omelet with whole-grain toast topped with avocado as well as a cup of fruit.
Lean protein, brown rice, and roasted vegetables.

2 Hours Before

A protein smoothie made with milk, protein powder, banana, and mixed berries.
Whole-grain cereal and milk.
Natural almond butter and fruit preserve sandwich using whole-grain bread.
A cup of oatmeal topped with sliced almonds and banana.

Within An Hour

A nutrition bar with protein and whole ingredients.
Greek yogurt and fruit.
A piece of fruit.

After The Workout

When you’re done exercising, it’s best to eat right after, as the body needs replenishing. Eating right after a workout helps the body recover properly. Although it is not exact, it is recommended to eat within 45 minutes after your workout. The main goal after exercising is to supply your body with the right foods that will help aid with recovery and will also maximize the benefits of your workout. The best foods to eat are easily digestible and with the macronutrients we’ve discussed.

Post-Workout Meal Ideas

You ought to combine carbs, protein, and fat to get the most benefits from them and prompt the body into its recovery phase more easily.
Here are some examples of meals that are good to have after a workout:
Salmon with sweet potato.
Egg omelet with avocado on toast.
Pita and hummus.
Cottage cheese and fruits.
Tuna and crackers.
Greek yogurt, berries, and granola.
Quinoa bowl with berries and pecans.
Protein shake and a banana.
Grilled chicken and roasted vegetables.


One of the most important things for the body is, of course, water. Staying hydrated not only is essential for your health, but it can affect your workout directly as well. It is extremely important to make sure you’re hydrated both before and after your workout. During a workout, the body loses a lot of fluids and electrolytes through sweating. Making sure to replenish after exercising will help with the recovery process and performance as well since dehydration can lead to fatigue.