Pre- and post- workout fuel, what to eat before and after a workout to see better results

Have you ever hit a wall half way into your workout and just didn’t have the energy to complete it? How about a time when you killed your workout, but then an hour later fell asleep sitting up in your chair and felt like you were in a fog? If we are not properly fueled before our workout it is like our car is running on gas fumes. If we forget to properly fuel after a workout, our energy stores take a dive and we can become irritable and lethargic, or experience “brain fog”.

Our bodies use glycogen, or stored energy from our muscles to get through our workouts. When that energy is depleted we need to replenish those stores. I have a lot of clients ask me “what should I eat before a workout? And what should I eat after my workout?” My first response is that each person’s energy needs are different and depending on the type of workout, your needs may vary as well. I suggest you try small amounts of food prior to your workout to understand your body’s fuel needs. Record your workouts and track how you feel during your workouts.

Experimentation will help you optimize your performance. However, try to avoid experimenting on race days or game days.

Fueling for your workout:

It is ideal to eat 1-3 hours before your workout, but if you are an early riser this may be difficult. Experiment with utilizing the carbs from dinner the night before. However, if your workout is an 1-2 hours after waking up, try to have something small and see how it impacts your performance. Here are a few ideas (size of meal may vary, depending on your needs):

-Greek yogurt with berries
-1/2 apple and almond or peanut butter
-Handful of nuts and raisins
-Peanut butter and 1/3 banana on whole grain toast

*each suggestion has a portion of fast acting carbs as your body’s preferred energy source

Replenishing post-workout

For optimal results, the best time to refuel your body after a grueling workout is within the first 30 minutes to one hour. This is when your body is like a sponge and is soaking up all the nutrients from the food you provide, so it is a good idea to make this a quality meal. Some folks look at this window of opportunity as a time to overindulge, by rationalizing “I just burned 500 calories in dance class! Now I can have that piece of chocolate cake! I have earned it!” Your body needs carbs to replenish the energy stores and protein to repair the muscles. Give your body premium fuel and it will run more efficiently and look healthier as well! It might be smart to read about supplements that could support you in your muscle toning efforts. has some useful information on the topic.

Experiment with a 2:1 or 3:1 carb/protein ratio post-workout and see how it impacts your overall goals:

-Post-workout recovery shake with berries or 1/2 frozen banana (I like to use a plant based protein as it is easier to digest)
-Low-fat chocolate milk
-Turkey in a whole grain veggie wrap with veggies
-Oatmeal and eggs
-Overnight oats: shown in photo above

*each suggestion has a portion of carbs to replenish glycogen stores and protein to help repair muscle, with little fat so we avoid slowing the process of utilizing these nutrients

What is your favourite pre- or post- workout fuel? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear them.

By Fitmo Coach, Carol Keller

Do you look in the mirror and say “Who Am I?” Do you want to feel younger, confident, & have more energy? As a woman over 40, I understand the struggles that woman our age go through. I’ve been a diet and exercise coach for over 10 years and I want to help you get YOUR sexy back & put that confidence back in your strut!
Learn more about Carol, and working with her via the Fitmo app here.

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