By Brandy Vickery, Contributing blogger
What you eat before and after you exercise plays a key role in your performance and how well your muscles recover after training. Plus, eating too much or meals high in fat and protein before a workout can make you sluggish or even sick.
With this in mind, we’re providing you with a list of the best foods you can eat before and after your exercise routine.
10 Foods to Eat Before a Workout
The best foods you can eat before a workout, especially cardio, are healthy carbs because they give you the fast energy you need for optimal performance. We’ve included fruits, dairy, and whole grains as well as some meal ideas to ensure every dieter has options.
You’ll also find a few low-fat sources of protein because protein is a good source of energy, but high-fat and high-protein foods digest slowly. As a result, these foods will not be used as fuel during your workout and may cause discomfort while you’re exercising.
Your options with low-fat yogurt are almost endless. We particularly like the idea of combining several other foods with yogurt such as berries, fruit, and nuts for texture and nutritional balance. You could also combine yogurt and fruit together to make a smoothie.
Whole-grain toast is a great option for anyone who needs a quick meal, and you can top it with low-sugar jams or preserves or any number of nut butters like almond butter.
Numerous cereal brands have created whole-grain, great-tasting cereals that are high in fiber, healthy carbs, and protein. Some of the best cereals have nuts and fruits in them or you could add your own.
Like yogurt, oatmeal has numerous possibilities. You can add berries, bananas, nuts, and just about anything else you like to your oatmeal.
Sweet potatoes are great carbs that are digested quickly and can give you energy fast. They are best when you pair them as a side to oatmeal or eggs or eaten alone with butter and cinnamon.
Bananas, berries, and apples are great fuel for your body. We suggest combining them with oatmeal, yogurt, or whole-grain cereal to ensure you have a balanced meal and the fuel you need to optimize your workout.
Pumpkin puree is a light, delicious option that adds some diversity to your diet. We love the idea of pumpkin puree as a fall or spring treat.
Numerous egg recipes are available on the web, from egg crepes with fruit and cream cheese to scrambled eggs and sweet potatoes. Not to mention, eggs are high in protein, which can prepare your muscles for weight training.
Quinoa is a high-protein seed that is similar to grits or oatmeal. It’s great with blueberries, strawberries; made with cream, honey, and cinnamon; or even cheese and a little ghee.
Some days we don't have time for an elaborate meal before we workout, and that's where pistachio's, almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pecans come in. They make an excellent source of fuel that you can eat on the go. Make sure you eat them sparingly since they have a lot of fat, too.
Pre-workout protein drinks
Protein drinks and smoothies are one of the best sources of fuel if you want a quick meal and energy boost. Your choices are vast too. You can buy everything from keto to vegan drinks or make your own protein or healthy carb packed drinks.
10 Foods to Eat After a Workout
After working out, you need a few things to repair your muscles and replenish your body. Protein is vital to healing your muscles after a workout, and hydrating is crucial to restoring electrolytes to your system.
Make sure you drink plenty of water and eat a healthy snack or meal after working out. Below you’ll find some of the best foods you can eat after exercising.
Eggs are on our list twice because of they are a quick, wholesome, protein-rich food. Try combining them with other foods like chicken, cheese, or ham for an excellent meal after training.
Nuts also made our list twice because you can help your muscles heal and give yourself a boost of energy. We suggest eating them as a snack after your workout or using them as a topping on salad or any other dish.
Lean pork and beef; salmon and tuna; and chicken or turkey are full of protein that aids your muscles in recovering after a workout. Not to mention there are dozens of recipes available on the web.
Crab, shrimp, and muscles like oysters are a versatile source of protein that can be added to soups, stews, salad, or be the main entrée.
Whether it’s full or low-fat mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey or Colby jack, or brie, cheese is one of the best snacks you can have after a workout. Cheese is a good source of protein and is easy to eat when you’re in a rush or as a topping on a salad, eggs, and more.
Carbs and Protein
The foods below offer carbohydrates and protein in case you want a boost of energy as well as something to help repair your muscles. These are also good sources of protein for those who are vegan or vegetarian.
Like regular yogurt, Greek yogurt can be paired with fruit, nuts, granola or turned into a smoothie, but it has more protein than regular yogurt.
Edamame is immature soybeans. It is often eaten as a snack, on salad, or mixed into a stir-fry. They provide significant protein and carbs.
If you're looking for a source of carbs and protein that can be turned into a soup, topped onto rice, or even the star of delicious tacos, then lentils are the food you’re looking for.
With oats, you can add them to a smoothie, make oatmeal, or make oat bars complete with nuts, dried fruit, and honey.
Tempeh is a product of fermented soybeans similar to tofu. It makes a great meat substitute and provides some carbs too.