The Best Workout Food to Eat Before and After You Exercise

Optimize your workout with proper nutrition.

What Should You Eat Before and After the Gym?

No matter what our fitness goals are, we all want to get the most out of a workout. Whether it’s walking a longer distance, running at a faster rate, or lifting heavier weights, there’s nothing more satisfying than finishing a workout session. But even if we plan out our exercise routines, we shouldn’t forget one of the most important aspects of getting a good workout in: fueling your body before and after exercising.

If you’re wondering how (and if) you should be fueling your body both pre- and post-workout, then you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ve outlined some of the best foods to eat 30 minutes before and after you exercise along with the answers to some common questions people have about eating around workout sessions.

What Should You Eat 30 Minutes Before a Workout?

Although it’s recommended to have a full meal about two to three hours before you exercise, sometimes it can be difficult to squeeze one in (especially if you’ve got a busy schedule). In these cases of eating closer to your workout, try to keep the meals smaller and simpler.

1. Oats

Oats are one of thebest pre-workout food options because they’re a great source of fiber and carbohydrates. In fact, oats slowly and gradually release carbohydrates which keeps energy levels consistent as you exercise; this means you have more sustained energy to keep you going longer and harder. As a bonus, oats have a good amount of Vitamin B, which is important for turning carbohydrates into energy.

2. Whole Grain Bread

Whole grain bread is anotherpre-workout food that’s a go-to source for complex carbohydrates and blood sugar stabilization. To make the most of this snack, you can add on a variety of toppings, such as scrambled eggs or an avocado. Eggs are packed with protein and essential amino acids (if you include the yolk) which help build and recover muscles. Meanwhile, avocados are a good source of healthy fats that keep you fueled longer.

3. Bananas

High in potassium and full of simple carbohydrates and natural sugars, bananas are a goodworkout food that support nerve and muscle function and help prevent muscle cramps. And if you want to add something extra to make this snack a little more filling, you can always add a tablespoon of peanut butter for more protein and healthy fats.

What Should You Eat 30 Minutes After a Workout?

Eating after a workout is a must. No excuses! Your body needs to refuel and replenish the calories that it burned as you exercised. If you don’t eat after working out, you can experience fatigue and low blood sugar and even inhibit your body’s repair process. If you’re looking forfood to eat after a workout, we’ve listed some of the best options below.

1. Quinoa

Quinoa is a great source of essential nutrients that are important for your post-workout body, such as protein, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, and magnesium; the last two are especially important for protein synthesis. In addition, quinoa contains all nine amino acids that are necessary for building muscle. As a bonus, it’s gluten-free and easy to digest!

2. Fish or Chicken

If you’re looking to maintain muscle mass, fish and chicken are good sources of lean protein that aid in muscle repair and growth. They’re also lower in calories and saturated fat compared to proteins like beef or pork.

3. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, arugula, and bok choy are some of thebest foods to eat after a workout because they’re packed with micronutrients and vitamins like calcium and iron. Among a number of benefits, calcium helps to repair muscles, stabilize blood pressure, and strengthen bones. Iron helps to regulate energy consumption and metabolism.

Don't eat fried chicken after a workout

What Should You Not Eat After a Workout?

You should always carefully consider whatfoods to eat after a workout. Although your body needs to be refueled, certain options aren’t as beneficial for you as they may seem. Below are some common workout foods you should try to avoid after exercising.

1. Sugary Protein Shakes

Protein shakes or smoothies are a great post-workout meal because they aid in muscle gain and improve performance and recovery. However, not all protein powders are good for you; some are loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemicals, fillers, and bulking agents. Be wary of these types of protein shakes!

2. Processed Energy Bars

While some energy bars are good as a quick snack for the days you don’t have time for a meal, they sometimes aren’t thebest food to eat after a workout. As a rule of thumb, avoid those with a lengthy list of ingredients; if you don’t recognize an ingredient, your body probably won’t either. When choosing certain kinds of energy bars, try to avoid those that contain refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, or large amounts of natural sugar.

3. Sports Drinks

You’ve seen the advertisements for these before. And while they seem to bring you the benefits of hydration and electrolyte replenishment, sports drinks contain high levels of sugar, sweeteners, or chemicals that will spike your blood sugar. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to sports drinks, you can try drinking raw coconut water, regular water, or a protein smoothie.

Is it OK to Work Out on an Empty Stomach?

It depends; the type of exercise you do can determine whether it’s a good idea or not to eat before a workout. For lighter and low-impact exercises such as walking or yoga, you can probably get away without eating anything beforehand. However, for strenuous exercises such as running and swimming, it’s better to fuel your body prior to working out so that you have enough strength, energy, and endurance. In fact, there may be times when it’s necessary to eat during a workout session if it lasts more than an hour.

Although there’s some research that supports working out on an empty stomach, this doesn’t mean that it’s ideal. Without eating to fuel your body before a workout, your blood sugar levels can drop and leave you feeling lightheaded, nauseous, or weak. At the end of the day, the important thing is to listen to your body and do what feels best for you!

What Next?

Now that you know what kinds ofworkout food are ideal, it’s time to fuel up and exercise. Whether it’s jumping, running, or weightlifting that you enjoy, there’s a variety of equipment you can use to get the most out of your workout. Made for any fitness enthusiast, the all-in-oneBeast Gear Ultimate Cardio Pack comes with a Beast Rope Pro, core sliders, and knee sleeves to make you sweat, build your strength, and protect you from injuries. So, what’re you waiting for? It’s time to get moving!

Contributing Writer: Rebecca Lee

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