10 Foods You Should Eat for Pre and Post Workout

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what to eat before and after workout

Exercise is not only beautifying, it is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, protecting your heart and lungs, helping you maintain blood sugar levels and providing strength, endurance, and flexibility. Some studies even show that regular intense exercise helps increase bone density, an essential factor in preventing osteoporosis. In order to sustain quality workouts, however, you must provide your body with the fuel it needs for energy and repair, before, during and after you exercise. Because of this, you need to eat foods from high quality nutrition sources both pre and post-workout.

Workout Fuel

The foods we eat contain three macronutrients: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Each of these macronutrients supplies the body with energy. Carbohydrates are our body’s most direct source of energy. This is why you hear of athletes carbohydrate loading before an event – because to do so provides the body with a ready supply of energy for use during intense exercise.

When we eat carbohydrates, our bodies store them in the muscles as glycogen, which it then uses for energy throughout the day. As we exercise, we begin to deplete glycogen from carbohydrates – it typically lasts for about an hour and a half. According to Nutrition for the Athlete, a fact sheet from Colorado State University, about 50 percent of our body’s energy comes from carbohydrates when we exercise.

time to eat after workoutFat also supplies fuel to the body, albeit more slowly than carbohydrates. During the first 90 minutes or so of exercise, fat metabolism accounts for about half of the body’s energy requirements, and that jumps up by about 25 percent after we’ve depleted carbs during long-term exercise lasting more than 20 minutes. Therefore, we do need to include some fats in the foods we eat, especially if we regularly engage in intense, long exercise. You don’t need a lot of fat though- a few Tbs. of chia seeds, a small avocado or some nuts are generally enough fat.

When you exercise, your muscle tissue sustains minute bits of damage – micro-tears. Protein in the diet helps your body to repair these tears after exercise, building stronger muscles in the process. Protein may also be metabolized for energy, although it must first be converted into body fat before your body can use it as fuel.

Exercise food, then, needs to contain carbohydrates, some fat, and some plant protein. If you eat it before exercise, it also needs to be light enough that it won’t weigh you down or make you feel sluggish. Let’s take a look at 10 foods that can really help you both before and after your workout.

1. Glowing Green Smoothie

shutterstock_113629492

The GGS is the perfect workout food. It’s filled with complex carbohydrates, amino acids (the building blocks of protein), vitamins, and minerals, but it moves easily through your system and digests thoroughly so it won’t weigh you down. Try a GGS before your workout and see how terrific you feel! If you work out in the morning I definitely would make the GGS your pre workout food, if you do eat something before. If I practice yoga first thing in the morning, it is the first thing I have afterwards.

 

2. Chia seeds

chia seeds post and pre workout

Another food I love, chia seeds, are loaded with omega-3 fats for sustained energy, protein, and antioxidants. Ancient Aztec and Incan warriors ate chia for strength and stamina during battle. Having chia a few hours before a long, intense workout can help provide fat for fuel after the carbs burn off. Eating them after a workout can provide tissue repairing protein. You can even have them during sustained activity such as hiking or bicycling to really amp up your energy levels.

3. Power Protein Smoothie

power protein smoothie

After a workout, you’ll want to replenish your supply of plant-based amino acids so your body can repair tissue. The Power Protein Smoothie is a delicious, healthful way to do so, because it’s loaded with chia, acai, and other raw protein sources. It can also help stabilize your blood sugar post-workout. I don’t recommend whey (which is from dairy) or soy protein powders, which are heavily processed, devoid of enzymes and difficult to digest.  Over time people that use such products tend to look older and older.

4. Coconut Water

young coconut water

Drinking coconut water is a great way to replenish electrolytes lost through sweating during a workout. This is especially important if you are exercising in a hot environment. I recommend drinking coconut water during sustained workouts, as well as after exercising. Look for natural, unsweetened brands in the bottled beverage section of your grocery store.

5. Quinoa

quinoa workout food

If you workout later in the day, eating some quinoa at lunch can provide you with carbs and protein for energy and muscle repair. It’s a fantastic energy food. Eat this superfood a few hours before you workout.

6. Avocado

avocado workout fuel

If you will be participating in a sustained workout, eating an avocado a few hours beforehand can provide valuable healthy fat for that energetic boost when carbohydrate depletion occurs.

7. Nuts and seeds

eat nuts and seeds

Eating nuts and seeds at dinner can give you energy for evening workouts because they cover all of your macronutrient bases, containing carbs, protein, and fat. Eating a few nuts and seeds during sustained exercise can also provide a boost of energy to keep you going during endurance activities.

8. Banana

bananaBanana is one of the most perfect pre and post workout foods as they are full of complex carbs, minerals such as potassium and fiber. Our close genetic relatives, chimps, eat bananas in bunches and thrive. Once you’ve stabilized a Candida condition, you too can enjoy bananas and other sweet fruits. I personally eat 3+ bananas a day when I’m active, especially in the summer. I find them to be such perfect human foods, and I never gain weight from them as my body is balanced to handle fruit sugars. I actually just ate my third one today while writing this blog…but the day is not over yet!

9. Oatmeal

healthy oatmeal

Eating about ½ cup of this hearty grain an hour or two before exercise will provide you with carbohydrate energy necessary for quick, intense workout sessions.

10. Veggies and hummus

veggies and hummus

A great post-workout snack, veggies and hummus will help you replenish glycogen stores while providing a small amount of plant protein for muscle repair and fat for sustained energy. Try my Chickpea-Less Hummus, which substitutes zucchini for chickpeas but has all the protein and calcium included from the tahini (sesame seeds).

This free blog is intended to be a source of inspiration to everyone around the world. We welcome your feedback through relevant, constructive, thoughtful comments. Please understand for legal reasons, I cannot answer specific/personal medical condition questions on the blog. For customer service issues or inquiries regarding purchases of any kind, go to http://support.kimberlysnyder.com. For all other questions or feedback, click here. For press inquires, email us here. Thank you for engaging and adding to the conversation!

81 Responses to “10 Foods You Should Eat for Pre and Post Workout

  1. Hey Kimberly. Great article! I understand that post workout nutrition is important, but I question whether the actual time frame most people suggest is accurate. It says that recent research argues that the suggested timeframe is much different than what most used to believe. What do you think?

    • Because Whey is DAIRY. which is the one product that everyone should eliminate from their diet. Dairy clogs your system, creates excess mucus, and sucks out all your beauty energy

  2. Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is fantastic,
    as well as the content!

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  4. you recommend quinoa for a pre-workout meal. My 16 year old son is a long distance runner, cyclist and rower. I am looking for a good pre-race meal(s) for him. He loves quinoa and he will often have it warm for breakfast, (we usually add a little maple syrup, walnuts, chia, dried cranberries and blueberries into it.
    My concern is I read somewhere that the pre-race meal should not have any protein in it. Is this true? I believe that quinoa has a lot of protein in it, correct?

  5. Greetings! I’ve been reading your site for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic job!

  6. i think u must include egg as a post food after workout just as it builds our metabolism rate
    and makes our bones more stronger . The egg has high amount of protein which our muscles
    require after workout.

  7. Howdy my good friend! I would like to express that this particular article is actually remarkable, great written and are avalable together with just about all important infos. I’d like to professional added articles this way .

  8. I was wondering if these foods will make me gain weight because i am trying to gain weight rather then loose it .

  9. This is great info!!

    I’m new to all of this (just now reading your first book) and I’m confused… I thought you were only supposed to eat fruit on an empty stomach. So if you eat bananas before/after workouts… this is only if you work out in the morning?

    Please advise!
    Rachael

  10. You recommended power protein smoothie verses whey protein, can you recommend a brand of power protein.
    I’m not sure what you mean by power protein smoothie.

    • Click on the hyperlink for the Power Protein Smoothie to get the recipe. Kimberly suggest hemp or brown rice protein. I use one called “Vegan Protein Factors” from Natural Factors which has pea, sprouted brown rice, hemp and chia protein. It is dairy free, soy free and gluten free with 22 grams of protein per serving! It is highly digestible and contains no artificial sweeteners!

  11. Hi Kimberly,

    Thank you for your guidance. I have been following your phase 1 for the a little over two weeks now. I had a cheat day over the weekend followed by a day of going back on the plan only I added a new salmon Patty with my dinner salad, and shortly after I began experiencing gas pains and although I am starting to feel better, two days later, my stomach still feels a little hard. I was thinking more cooked vegetables would help. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you!

  12. Hello,

    I wake up every morning at 4:30 to go run. I drink the glowing smoothie regularly and im constantly eating lots of veggies. Lately i been having problems with waking up with energy. My head feels heavy at times. what do you recomend to eat at night for people that wake up realy early to hit the gym and run. Is the glowing smoothie a good night time drink to provide the body with energy while we sleep?

  13. Hi Kim!! I just read your book and I am so inspired! I have some questions:

    1. Do you have to soak chia, flax, and hemp seeds?

    2. Do carrots and fruit mix?

    Thanks!

    • Carrots and fruit do not mix, since carrots contain starch and digest much slower than fruit does. A rule of thumb for fruits is to eat it alone, and on an empty stomach – unless used in a smoothie with green leafy vegetables.

      good luck!

  14. Kim, thanks a lot for this article, I have to tell you that I just finish my work out this morning and I drank some of the GGS before and drank coconut water during that work out and I felt so good, I was able to finish 45 minutes without feeling like I was going to die. Thanks a lot again, I love your book and love your blog

  15. Great write up! I do have one question though. In my research, I have yet to find anything that suggest whey protein will make you look older, If anything, every thing i have read has pointed to the opposite, that it not only helps maintain muscle and strengthen bone, but in some studies has been shown to reverse aging effects on heart and liver tissues. As a vegetarian I use whey to supplement protein in the morning and post workouts and I haven’t noticed anything other than actually looking healthier (probably due to the diet and regular excersise). I would like to know where you got your information as it seems to negate what I had though was true.

  16. Hi Kimberly,

    Is it ever ok to skip dinner in your opinion? I often take a 7pm yoga class, and have just enough time to get a snack when I get off work before class (I’m usually starving, but try to keep it to veggies and maybe some gluten-free crackers so I don’t feel heavy during class). The problem is I’m not hungry when I get home, and often don’t get hungry until right before going to bed. I know it’s not good to eat right before going to bed–any suggestions would be appreciated!

    Just discovered your site/book and am excited to start incorporating it into my diet!

  17. Hi Kim – my wife and I are big fans! Just curious about how much time you recommend people leave after having a GGS and before working out.

    Jeff

  18. Hi Kimberly,
    How long after the GGS do I need to wait to have the protein shake. I work out 6 days a week and want to make sure I’m getting enough protein with out eating animal protein. I love your book and I learn something knew everytime I go back and reread. I can’t wait until I this becomes second nature :) I feel like I’m questioning myself a lot right now but I feel great! Thank you!

  19. Hi Kimberly, I was wondering how much fruit I should eat daily and at what times it is best to consume them? I know I should eat them on an empty stomach, but would that count as snacking? I always tried to limit my intake of fruit during my previous diet, so I’m a bit at loss. Thank you! :)

  20. Hi Kimberly,

    I just want to thank you for providing all your excellent knowledge. You are AMAZING! i just read your book it was phenomenal. I wanted to find out if you could recommend a digestive enzyme free of corn, wheat, soy, dairy, gluten, milk, eggs, sodium citrate, citrid acid and yeast.

    Any good foods or supplements to boost thyroid function? Any good ways to lower cortisol ? Any good ways or products to increases progesterone and lower estrogen?

    I have many intolerance and allergies. I eat only organic but my tummy gets bloated after everything I eat. Can you recommend a good probotic free of the above allergens and also magnesium without citric acid. Also can you recommend a good fiber that will lower estrogen without affecting thyroid? Any good foods to eat that will not raise estrogen? Does Magnesium raise dhea, cortisol or estrogen? Can you recommend any books to read? I’m trying very hard to understand I’m very appreciative of any guidance you can provide. Thank you.

  21. Hi!!!

    I am so excited about this blog. I love this way of eating and life… it is amazing!

    I have a couple of questions about fruit… I know that we are supposed to eat fruits alone and certain fruits together and melons by themselves. However, I am wondering that since we mix fruit into the green smoothies, if it is okay to eat fruit after raw veggies?

    Also, I like to drink coconut water when I workout as well as fresh watermelon juice from time to time. Does these juices count as fruits? Meaning to ask that if I have watermelon juice, should I not eat another fruit, and if I have just eaten only an hour ago, should I not drink the watermelon juice?

    Thank you so much!!!

    Cynthia Haddad

  22. Great article! How long do i need to wait after having a protein shake before eating something else? Also how long do i need to wait after having the ggs before i eat something else?

  23. Hello Kim!
    i love reading your blog and just received your book in the mail! Thank you for all the wonderful information. Im hoping you can answer a quick question for me….. Im interested in starting your advice of drinking warm lemon water in the morning. I do take thyroid medication upon rising and was wondering if i can do them together or if i should space them out about 30 mins? thank you!!

  24. Kimberly, when you say you eat 3+ bananas because your body is balanced to handle fruit sugars, what do you mean exactly? I limit my intake of bananas because i”ve heard about how much sugar they have, so i generally only have half a banana a day though I love them and could happily eat 3 like you! there is so much going around the internet about limiting fruit sugar, how fructose is “dangerous” and acts the same as white sugar in the body (apart from the vitamins in the fruits)?

    Also, when I took stevia (nuNaturals brand the one you recommend), I noticed feeling really sluggish and depressed after i would have several drops in my herbal tea, so I cut it out and felt a lot better almost instantly, I think it might have been preventing the absorption of vitamins or minerals because I developed anemia which coincided with the time when I started using stevia in high dosage – several cups of tea a day, 7x drops in each one – you can imagine how much I was consuming!

    Just wondered what you think about stevia and have you heard of any side effects?

    Sarah

    • Sarah, im so glad you posted this. I too have been feeling bad after stevia, even though i only consume maybe 1 or 2 drops per day.

      I thought this was very strange and I´m glad to find im not alone in this reaction :)

      Sunni

  25. I’ve been enjoying the information in the emails I’ve been receiving since I discovered your blog; thank you! I particularly enjoyed this article and the mention of chia seeds as a super food for pre- and post-workout. I became interested in chia after discovering Mila, a proprietary blend of chia which has been carefully selected to maximize its nutritional value while offering a unique combination of omega-3s, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. I’ve been eating Mila for a year and am loving the health benefits I’ve experienced: improved sleep, skin, digestion, and a 15 lb. weight loss. I know of many testimonials from people who find Mila superior to chia, and an independent study proved that as well. Every bag of Mila has the varieties that are the highest in Omega-3′s, protein, fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. Not only is the Mila blend hand selected, it is also meticulously cleaned to ensure there are no stems, weed seeds or unripened seeds. Feel free to take a look at my websites and/or Facebook page, below, for more information, and let me know if you would like to try some Mila! Thank you so much for all the great information on your site, and I look forward to reading your book!

  26. Hi Kim

    I started your diet and it is working out, although I am a little tired in the beginning.
    I value your opinion however, can you provide me with your view on the Blood Type Diet and do you know any O’s that do well with your plan?

    Thanks a bunch:)

  27. Hi Kim!

    First off, I want you to know (if you didn’t already) that you’re genius and truly an inspiration to so many! Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge! I do have a question about stevia… Is there a brand you recommend and what are your thoughts on Truvia?

    Again, thanks for everything you do!

  28. Hi Kim,

    I love your book and blog and am transitioning into the true beauty phase. I have a couple questions I was hoping you could help me with.

    1. can I put tomatoes and alfalfa sprouts in my GGS?

    2. Do hemp seeds need to be soaked? – also chia, flax, and quinoa? I’ve never heard of them needing to be soaked but I just reread something of yours that said you soaked quinoa.

    3. If I am eating a GGS and a salad (all veg salad for lunch and salad with seeds for dinner) do I eat the GGS (i put banana in mine) wait 45 minutes and then eat the salad – or salad first and then GGS?

    Thanks so much for all your great info!!

    • Hi Angie,
      You can put sprouts in your GGS for sure, I often do. You can put in tomato, but then I would leave out the other fruits. I do soak quinoa and flax, and I make chia gel to hydrate it and thicken it. I would eat the GGS before the salad. Hope that helps! xx

  29. Thank you this is so helpful ! I enjoy going for a run on Mornings but I often wonder what would be best for me to eat ! And thank you for the information on Bananas! I love them but I sometimes feel guilty because I thought that bananas weren’t advised for those who want to stay healthy… Guess I was wrong!

    • Hi Oceane (cool name!),
      It’s always amazing to me how complicated our society makes something as natural as our diets! Bananas are just about as natural human food as one can get. I love them and eat them often! It’s foods that are not natural for human consumption, such as dairy (milk is made for a baby cow) and excessive, clogging fat that need to be watched… xx Kimberly

  30. Hi Kimberly
    I have been feeling really cold lately. The “winter” is coming here in Australia. it isn’t that cold and the others do not feel it as much as i do. I was told a couple of years ago that I should take iron supplement. However, I stopped taking them over a year ago. Do you think I should start taking again or work on getting more by eating certain foods? I bought some molasses and is this a good thing to add to my diet then?
    thanks

    • Hi Hanna,
      You can try taking a high quality multi-vitamin/multi-mineral supplement. I don’t recommend taking lots of specific supplements, which can lead to overall imbalances. Focus on balancing your diet overall. I tend to crave more fat in the winter, from avocados and seeds, to help act as insulation against the cold. xx

  31. Hi Kim,

    I love the book. I also love GGS. I made veggie turmeric quinoa, its very good.
    Is fuji water good/ healthy for you?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Anna,
      Thanks! I try to avoid water in plastic containers, though if you had to buy one in a container sometimes that is a good one. Invest in a good filter and refill stainless steel water bottles! xx

  32. Hi Kim, thank you for posting this – I have always wondered which foods were best to eat before and after the gym. I am a huge fan and love your book! Keep inspiring!

  33. Hi Kim,

    What you said about bananas in this post reminded me to ask you about the 80/10/10 diet. I was wondering what you think about the 80/10/10 diet and candida. Some people attest to using this diet to effectively bring their candida overgrowth back into balance. I have also heard a lot of bad things about the diet, such as over time, the diet can lead to teeth problems. What do you think about people who have supposedly healed themselves from candida using 80/10/10? Do you think this diet can work for everyone in the long-term?

    Also, I have heard that many fruits are hybridized, including bananas, and they are much sweeter than they are supposed to be. And certain fruits like bananas can’t reproduce naturally on their own anymore and therefore, are unnatural foods and shouldn’t be consumed. What do you think about this? I would really love to know your thoughts! Thanks Kim!

    • Hi Christi,

      If you’ve read the Beauty Detox Solution, or even in the post where I mention bananas- I say you must balance your Candida first. Blossoming Beauty, the first phase of the BDS is a no-sugar, no fruit anti-Candida diet. I think 80/10/10 does a great job of pointing out how most people eat way too much fat, but it is not my way of eating. The main argument they use against grains is gluten/wheat, which I don’t advocate. However, I eat a lot of quinoa, millet and other gluten-free grains.

      I want you to think about what you just wrote…bananas are unnatural foods?? I recently picked bananas growing wildly in Puerto Rico, and have done the same in the Philippines and all around the world.

      • Thanks so much for answering my questions Kim, I really value your expertise. About the bananas though, isn’t there a difference between the common yellow banana (I believe its the Cavendish variety) found in most grocery stores and bananas that grow in the wild? I find myself rather confused on the topic of hybridization because I understand that it is a process found in nature, but then why is there so much negative information out there about hybridized fruits? I’d love if you could blog about this topic and perhaps some of your other readers are interested too.

  34. What is (how much) a recommended daily serving of chia seeds? I never know how much is enough – 1 tbsp? 1 tsp? 2?

  35. Hi kim love your book I Am trying to change my eating to mostly raw. I was wondering what do you think about nutracleanse its flax,psyllium husk and other fibres i bought a three month supply before i bought your book should i be taking it or is it too much?

  36. This is very useful. I’ve got a question regarding hydration. Some sources say, you can drink as much as possible during the day (even your body weight in ounces!), and others warn against drinking too many fluids that “flush out” nutrients. Could you write a bit about that, please? Thanks!

  37. Hi Kimberly! Thanks for more great info! I have your chia seed smoothie almost every afternoon before my workout around 6. I have 2 tbs chia seeds, with almond milk and a little banana & stevia. I only have time to wait about an hour before I start working out – is that still ok? About once a week I also add 1 tbs of the protein powder u recommend to my smoothie – I would still drink this before my workout, and then dinner after. Is that ok too? Occassionally I find time to workout in the morning – if so, I like to get it done first think and then start preparing food and have the GGS afterward. I can’t workout on an empty stomach though – would you recommend lemon & water, followed by some banana as a quick food option before exercising?

    I aim to follow your book as closely as I can – it has really helped regulate my eating patterns :) thank you! I also wanted to know if u keep all nuts & seeds in fridge, incl. chia seeds?

    Thank you!! Julia xo

  38. Awesome article Kimberly! Perfect advice once again! I was curious on the serving size of chia seeds and power protein smoothies. Keep up the great work !!

    Suriya
    Melbourne , Australia

  39. Hi! I drInk the GGS at least 5 days a week for breakfast. I recently read about alkaloids in vegetables. I don’t vary the GGS recipe at all. Should I be concerned about these toxins?

  40. Good tips. I like your GGS before long runs. I do half marathons. The GGS settles well in my stomach. So do bananas. But I really like your Chia Delight before long runs the best. :)

  41. Thank you so much for this info Kim. I was just thinking about what I can add to my diet when I run without eating meat. I run 4 miles 5 days a week and I was feeling like I was not getting enough daily protein. Any specific power you recommend?

  42. Hi Kimberly! Another amazingly helpful post! What do you mean by sustained workout? Also, any tips for gaining weight while staying on BDS would be great! Maybe blog post on that? I lost too much weight in BB phase and am trying to gain back in healthy way. Also I think candidia is clear (spit tested) but how can I be sure? I want to eat 3 bananas a day like you!…but will that make it return? Will increasing my fats to gain weight make it return? Thank you so much!!

  43. Also, sorry but I just have one more question! when I took stevia (nuNaturals brand the one you recommend), I noticed feeling really sluggish and depressed after i would have several drops in my herbal tea, so I cut it out and felt a lot better almost instantly, I think it might have been preventing the absorption of vitamins or minerals because I developed anemia which coincided with the time when I started using stevia in high dosage – several cups of tea a day, 7x drops in each one – you can imagine how much I was consuming!
    Just wondered what you think about stevia and have you heard of any side effects?

    Sarah

  44. Kimberly, great article thankyou – I’ve been looking for these tips for ages! when you say you eat 3+ bananas because your body is balanced to handle fruit sugars, what do you mean exactly? I limit my intake of bananas because i”ve heard about how much sugar they have, so i generally only have half a banana a day though I love them and could happily eat 3 like you! there is so much going around the internet about limiting fruit sugar, how fructose is “dangerous” and acts EXACTLY the same as white sugar in the body (apart from the vitamins in the fruits) – I just don’t know what to think anymore!

    How has your body adjusted to fruit sugars what do you mean?

    Sarah xx

    • I’ve been wondering about the same thing. There are a lot of articles saying that you should limit or eliminate fruit from your diet when trying to lose weight or managing your blood sugar (the thought makes my heart stop, I love fruit so much!). There are others who say that nobody’s ever gained weight on fruit and that it’s ok to snack on it throughout the day…hmm. Looking forward to your reply.

  45. i eat all of these! yeah! i love chia too! it fills you up so you eat less too!
    thanx for the recipes!

  46. Dear Kim,
    how do you prepae chia seeds? Do I have to soak them? Thank you. I like your website very much. Greetings from Europe :)

  47. hi kim! i think this is a list of all the foods i love most! plus the indian spiced sweet potatoes! im obssesed right now :)

    love your blog <3
    again, it changed my life for the better.

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