Best Workout Foods Choosing Pre And Post Workout Foods

Athletes and non-athletes alike, no matter the intensity or nature of the specific sport, benefit from certain basic nutritional guidelines. The best foods for exercise-heavy lifestyles are similar in most ways to the best foods for any lifestyle, and include plenty of whole grains, lean proteins and the vitamins and minerals found in a wide variety of vegetables and fruits.

Shifts in the balance of these nutrients and some extra attention paid to the sources from which they are derived may improve sports performance and optimize overall health for athletes.

The best workout foods are easy to digest, burn efficiently as fuel and replace the necessary minerals and nutrients lost during periods of exertion.

Best Foods Before a Workout

An hour or two before your workout, consider loading up on foods that will provide long-burning fuel and lasting energy so you don’t crash in the middle of your session.
Avoid simple sugars and sugary snacks, and opt instead for complex carbohydrates and digestible whole grains. You’ll also want to consume lean proteins, especially if your workout will be especially taxing or last longer than two hours. After a few hours of intense exertion, your body may start reaching for amino acid fuels, which will have to come from proteins you’ve eaten; otherwise, they will be extracted from your own muscle tissue.
For foods before workout sessions, choose:

  • Energy bars
  • Oatmeal
  • Trail mix
  • Whole wheat pasta.

Bananas and apples are also good choices, since they are packed with potassium and can keep your nerves and muscles functioning properly. Be sure not to eat too much, and time your meal so you don’t start exercising on a full stomach.

Foods For Exercise During Your Workout

Avoid relying solely on the food you consume during your workout to fuel the energy required by that workout. In other words, your body should be running on stored energy, glycogen and fat, not on the energy gel you just consumed a minute ago. Relying only on energy gels and other quick fuels is not very efficient and can lead to digestive problems.

All the same, if your workout is very long, you’ll need to take in about 17-25 ounces of fluid each hour, along with extra calories, especially during hot weather. Occasional gel packs containing complex–rather than simple–sugars can help you maintain focus and concentration and prevent an energy crash.

Post-Workout Foods for Repair and Restoration

During a period of strenuous exercise, your body uses up glycogen stores in muscles, which can cause minute damages to muscle and other tissues. Well-chosen foods after a workout can help replenish lost nutrients and repair damage. Optimally, post-workout foods should offer a three to one ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Try a combination of:

  • A glass of fruit juice and an egg
  • Four graham crackers spread with a few tablespoons of peanut butter
  • Fresh fruit with sliced turkey.


Janine, A. (2011). The best post workout foods. Retrieved May 15, 2011, from

Sayburn, S. (2010). The 6 best pre-workout foods. Retrieved May 15, 2011, from