Working out and eating right are the keys to a healthy lifestyle. Finding a workout that you enjoy is vital to keeping up an exercise routine. And fueling your body with the right foods before and after a workout can help you make the most of your favorite exercise activities.

But, just how do you fuel your body to give yourself the biggest boost and have a great workout? It’s challenging to know what to eat for a workout. To make it easy, try using the MyLifeWell App. The MyLifeWell app has a great nutrition tracker to help you understand nutrition and keep track of what goes into your body to learn how to better fuel your body and make the healthiest choices.

One of the most important things to consider when choosing healthy foods pre and post-workout has nothing to do with food at all: it actually has to do with timing. Eating too soon or too late can cause you to be tired and hinder your recovery after a workout. Not eating enough or eating the wrong foods before or after a workout can be the difference between an upset stomach and feeling lightheaded and dizzy. Generally, the best time to eat a pre-workout snack is 1 to 3 hours before your workout. And you should always eat within an hour after your workout. 

Don’t forget the importance of staying hydrated. Drinking enough water throughout the day can help you keep your body functioning at its best. Ideally, an adult should drink between 15.5 cups for men and 11.5 cups per day for women.

Should I eat before a workout?

Eating before a workout helps keep your body from depleting its energy. Carbs should be included in all your pre-workout snacks. Carbs break down glucose and give us energy for physical activity. Including carbs in your pre-workout snack is necessary to keep your body fueled and ready to go. If you don’t have enough glucose in your body during a workout, it could leave you feeling zapped, and it may be difficult to complete your workout.

In addition to carbs, protein needs to be a part of your pre-workout snack. Protein can help protect muscles from small tears that can happen when working out, especially during weight lifting and strength training. After a workout, the body can repair itself — protein plays a key role in this process.

What should I eat pre-workout?

Pre-workout nutrition should be a combo of carbs and protein, but you shouldn’t eat anything heavy or fried. For example, a slice of cheese pizza has both protein and carbs, but it’s not an ideal snack to eat before exercising due to its greasy heaviness. A few simple ideas that make great pre-workout snacks are:

  • Half of a banana or nut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • Granola bar
  • Trail mix with mixed nuts and raisins
  • Fruit smoothie with yogurt and mixed berries
  • Banana
  • Apple with a spoonful of nut butter

These are excellent carb-protein combos to eat before you start your next workout.

Should you eat during a workout?

According to one expert, it depends on how long and how intense the workout is. If you are working out for less than an hour, then it isn’t necessary to refuel with snacks. Just sipping on plain water is recommended. However, suppose you are an athlete training or doing a strenuous extended workout. In that case, it is good to refuel every half hour with carbs that are easy to digest, such as raisins, a banana, or a small container of yogurt.

What should I eat after a hard workout?

Post-workout nutrition is just as important as pre-workout nutrition. After a good sweat session, it’s necessary to refuel your body and replenish your energy. Some healthy post-workout snacks that have a good mix of carbs and protein are:

  • Half of a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • Greek yogurt mixed with fresh fruit
  • Veggie egg scramble with spinach, potatoes, and cheese
  • Graham crackers with nut butter
  • Grilled chicken breast with asparagus and brown rice

These snacks will fill you up after a workout so you won’t feel sluggish.

Should I drink sports drinks or water?

We all know it is important to stay hydrated, but can plain water do the trick? According to experts, yes: water is enough for most people doing moderate exercise. However, if you’re exercising in hot weather or for an extended period of time, sports drinks can help you replenish fluids and electrolytes. 

Next time you are heading for a workout, try these snack ideas to help you keep your body in shape. Check out the MyLifeWell app to help you meet your nutrition goals.