Nutritious pre- and post-workout snacks

Covering your basic 3 meals of the day is a straightforward process. But how about those snacks during the day? Especially before and after training - what should your food intake be like? We give you some easy tips so you can go into the workout full of energy and sit down afterwards with the ideal recovery snack.

Pre-workout snacks

Eating before going into a workout or training session will give you the most chance to get something out of it. If you don’t eat enough you might end up feeling lightheaded or dizzy when you elevate your heart rate. Skipping a snack can negatively impact your performance and reduce those wanted gains. You may have to experiment to see which timeframe does your body good. If you're working out first thing in the morning, you probably won't be able to eat a whole meal before you hit the gym. So a small snack will suffice.

Yet squeezing in that snack before your class on your way from the office might seem impossible as time is limited. But it does not have be hard. One important things to remember: get carbs in. Carbs = energy. You need that energy. If you're lacking glucose (i.e. how carbs are stored in your body) during your workout, you'll feel weak, tired and would prefer to take a nap instead. Your muscles use that glucose from carbs for fuel. Ideally you eat simple carbohydrates, because they will digested fast and give you quick energy.

Pre-workout snack examples:

  • Piece of fruit
  • Granola bar
  • Oatmeal
  • Greek yogurt ( contains carbs and protein)
  • Dried fruit
  • Rice cake

It’s important as well to get some protein in, and you can easily combine protein with the above snack ideas. When you do for example strength training exercises, you create small tears in your muscle fibers. When you rest, your body will repair those tears, building up your muscles bigger and stronger than they were before. And to do that it needs protein. Also here, go for forms that are easily digestible and do not eat too much of it. Good examples of protein would be nuts, a slice of turkey, a hardboiled egg, a glass of (soy) milk. You can mix carbs and protein in a liquid form by preparing a protein smoothie.

Post-workout snacks

Your recovery starts right after that training session where you were able to give it all. Eating after a workout is all about replacing the calories you used up and replenish the glycogen that has been depleted during your exercise. Eating protein after a workout is a must as well for faster muscle recovery. If you do not eat after a workout, you can end up fatigued and battling low blood sugar. You're also hindering your body's repair process. If you frequently skip eating after a workout, it will be harder for you to reach your fitness goals.

Ideally, you want to refuel within about 30 minutes of working out to get those energy stores back up. If you aren't able to eat a full meal right away, have a snack within 20 minutes of your training and you can have a full meal 3 to 4 hours later. As you've blown through that glycogen and torn up your muscles, refuel with carbs and protein. Your post-workout snack should be high in complex carbohydrates (this time don't need them to break down fast like you did before the workout) and loaded with protein.

Post-workout snack examples:

  • Protein-rich green smoothie
  • Peanut butter and banana on rice cakes
  • Protein shake with banana
  • Yoghurt and fresh berries
  • Chocolate milk
  • Almonds

Ideally you fuel up before you work up a sweat and get a proper meal in after you are done, with complex carbohydrates, healthy protein and good fats. Something that goes above all pre- and post-workout snacks and meals: stay hydrated. Always drink enough water before, during and after training.  

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