People work out for any number of reasons. We do it because we know it’s an essential part of maintaining physical fitness; a way to feel good, look good, and stay healthy in the long run. Working out can improve your sleep, and maybe even boost your sex life.
Given the effort expended, most of us want to maximize the benefits we get from working out—in any way we can. Choosing what to eat before or after your workout can be a good way to ensure that you are getting the greatest possible health benefit from your efforts.
Many experts recommend eating at least a light, protein-heavy snack before engaging in a workout that may last an hour or more. This gives you the energy you need in the moment, and ensures you won’t run out of steam. Think whole grains, nuts, lean protein or something similar.
Yogurt is always a good choice, especially when it contains live, active cultures. You’ll get a protein boost, while shoring up the friendly bacteria in your gut at the same time. Just keep it modest. You don’t want to tax your stomach’s ability to digest food, when your body needs to shunt more blood to hard-working muscles, and away from the digestive tract.
After a workout (preferably within one hour afterwards, for best results) consider eating a small meal or snack featuring lean protein, complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, and plant foods, such as grilled vegetables. The idea is to assuage your hunger before it becomes a runaway train that primes you to overeat.
Great Choices for an After-Workout Snack or Meal
- Wild salmon, grilled, steamed, poached, or broiled, with fresh lemon wedges
- Lean turkey cutlets, grilled
- Lean chicken breasts, grilled or baked
- Eggs, omelette, scrambled, over-easy, hard-boiled; the choices are endless
- Avocado slices (sprinkled with lemon juice to preserve freshness)
- Tree nuts
- Vegetables; grilled, steamed, sautéed, etc.
- Fresh fruit
- Salad of dark green leafy vegetables (choose from among kale, spinach, arugula, beet greens, Romaine lettuce, butter lettuce, etc.)
- Baked sweet potato (don’t fear the natural sugar; these spuds are more nutritious than plain white potatoes)
- Hummus (try our recipe for beetroot hummus)
- Hard-boiled egg
- Tuna on whole-grain crackers
- 1-2 oz. tree nuts
- 1-2 Tbsp. nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut, etc.) on organic apple slices
- Celery or carrot sticks with nut butter (1-2 Tbsp.)