What are Pre and Post Exercise Meals?

Many of my clients ask me what they should be eating before and after a workout.

The first thing I tell beginners with regards to exercise nutrition is “eat something!”. There have been times a new client shows up to a fitness assessment on an empty stomach and within 15 minutes we have to stop because they’re feeling light headed.

Here are the 4 Basic Tips I share with my Clients on Pre & Post Exercise Nutrition:

1. Don’t leave out the carbohydrates.

Greek Salad - Snack SizeCarbs are fuel for our bodies. The harder we exercise, the more carbs we need to keep going. We need to consume carbs both before and after exercise. Remember, veggies fall within the carb family.

2. Proteins are key, after your workout.

Protein rebuilds and repairs our muscles after exercise. We need to consume it to keep our bodies strong. It can also speed up the muscle recovery process.

3. Stay hydrated!

I follow the general guideline of consuming 250mL of water before my workouts, 1L during a one hour exercise session and at least another 500mL one hour after my workouts. You don’t want to feel thirsty during or after a workout (or anytime really), because that means you’re already reducing your performance.

4. Timing may matter.

Based on experience, I believe it’s best to eat something carb filled approximately one hour before a workout. This gives the body a fuel boost to really push it in the gym and it doesn’t usually cause stomach discomfort. I’m often not hungry immediately following a workout, it usually takes a thirty to sixty minutes for me to really want food. Listen to your body, but definitely consume some type of protein + carb laiden food within the hour.

Sample foods I recommend BEFORE exercising include:

  • Protein shake containing veggies & fruitsNutritional Shake
  • Steel-cut oats with low fat milk and fruit
  • Apple with peanut or almond butter
  • Handful of nuts and dried berries

Each of these meals is heavy on the carbs, but also includes some protein.

Sample foods I recommend AFTER exercising include:

  • Protein shake containing veggies & fruits
  • Tuna & veggie sandwich (using whole grain bread)
  • Veggie & chicken omelette with whole grain bread
  • Greek yogurt and berries

Each of these meals is heavy on the protein, but also includes some carbs.

To summarize, I believe we should eat something containing carbs one hour before a workout and protein + carbs within one hour after exercising. Our bodies are made up of mostly water, it’s critical to stay hydrated before, during and after a workout session.

Please let me know if you have any fitness nutrition questions.