Andie Thueson » Wellness » Healthy Living » Tips for Healthy Living » What To Eat Before and After a Workout A Powerful Guide For Optimal Results!

What To Eat Before and After a Workout A Powerful Guide For Optimal Results!

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*Updated 10/3/22 To provide the most up to date options and recommendations.

As a personal trainer, one of the common questions I get asked constantly is what to eat before and after a workout. I am pretty sure as humans. We are hard-wired to be thinking about food continually. Or that may just be me. In this post, I will dive into how eating the right foods before your workout can help improve your exercise session. And how eating at the right time after a workout can help you get the best results.

Photo of a delicious yogurt bowl with fruit, nuts, and granola. Know what to eat before and after a workout is so important . This blog post goes over all the details.
Knowing what to eat before and after a workout is pivitol for opitmal results.

You will hear and read answers that vary across the internet and social media on this very topic of what to eat before and after a workout. As I say all the time, you are the only expert on you. So read this article with an open mind, give these tips a try and settle into what works best for you and your body. There is no RIGHT answer. We are all super different and have varying nutritional needs. So take what works for you, and I permit you to scrap whatever doesn’t resonate or work for you. These are very general guidelines provided to give you a better idea of what may work for you.

I will say this, no matter what level of fitness you are at what to eat before and after a workout matters. Proper nutrion matters when you are working to uplevel.

Ok, friends, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty nerdy details of proper nutrition. PS No matter what, please ensure that you are drinking plenty of water. Nothing will sabotage your weight loss progress more than a lack of adequate hydration. Aim for 2/3 of your body weight in ounces; for example, if you weigh 150lbs, your goal should be to drink 100 ounces or about 12.5 cups of water.

Formula your weight times 2/3 = how much water you should drink in ounces.

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An infographic showing all the best options on what to eat before and after a workout.
The foods listed in the infographic are designed to help fuel you know what to eat before and after a workout – so you are fueling your body properly.


Before an intense workout, it is important to stick to slower digesting complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and minimal healthy fats. Some great examples of slower digesting complex carbs are things like whole grains (whole grain/wheat bread, sweet potatoes, brown rice or rice pasta, whole-wheat pasta, etc.)

If you choose to eat a small meal before working out, you can typically wait 1-2 hours. For larger meals, it is best to wait 2-4 hours to work out. Sometimes a small snack on the way to the gym is all you need before a workout. But always listen to your body and do what makes YOU feel good.


By eating slow-digesting carbs, your body will continue to digest calories throughout your workout to give you maximum energy as you exercise. I recommend slow-digesting carbs for a high-intensity type of workout such as running, HIIT, cycling, or dancing. Adding protein will help fuel muscle.

Suppose you prefer a lighter choice before working out or don’t have 30-1 hour to eat before working out. Stick with simple carbohydrates such as fruit. This will give you a quick boost of energy without weighing you down.

If you are an early workout person like myself – you may opt to train fasted. This simply means you choose to eat nothing before working out. For me, this works well and is my personal preference. Eating so early in the morning is rough, and I am usually not even hungry, so I opt for pre-workout fuel and bring my BCAAs (essential amino acids) in my gym bag. I also like training fasted because it allows my body to burn through my energy stores of glycogen (glucose), and I am able to burn fat as fuel. *if you use the links, you’ll automatically save 10% on your order!

The bottom line is, listen to your body!! If you find yourself struggling during a workout – then your body may need something before a workout. Or, if you get an upset stomach and feel sick when you eat before working out, you may want to forgo eating before working out, opting for an empty stomach. Your body is pretty magical, and if you listen closely, it will tell you exactly what it needs.


Now that you just killed your workout, it is time to REFUEL, and the best way to do that is with quick digesting carbohydrates and protein!

After working out, your glycogen stores (glycogen is what your muscle stores to use as energy) will likely be depleted, and you will want to replenish them ASAP!

Therefore you want to focus on simple, quick-digesting carbohydrates. Think fruit, as well as things like white potatoes, bread, cereal, or chocolate milk. Yes, chocolate milk! Woot! Woot!

You’ll also want to focus on your protein intake and aim for 20-30 grams of protein with your quick digesting carbs to help aid in muscle building and muscle repair. This is most important with you have been strength training. (lifting weights)

Even post-workout, we are keeping dietary fats low. You’ll want to strive to eat within 30 minutes of completing your workout, which is optimal, but within an hour is still beneficial.

Photo of Andie drinking protein powder. Knowing what to eat before and after a workout is so important. Andie is wearing a bright blue sports bra and matching leggings.
Fuel and Refuel – Use these ideas as a guide then follow what feels right for you.


  • Granola with Almond Milk add some fruit
  • Protein Pancakes
  • Grains {Brown Rice or Quinoa}+ Lean Chicken
  • Hummus + Whole Wheat Pita Bread
  • Greek Yogurt Parfait
  • Protein Shakes work also are a great way to refuel as well!
  • Cottage Cheese Apple + Cinnamon
  • Whole Egg, Toast, and Jam

Each Protein Powder I recommend has the highest quality ingredients, with no sketchy crap that a lot of brands use.

When you work out, you push your body and challenge it, which is a fantastic feeling! Just remember that learning to treat your body well, before and after a workout, and let’s be honest always, is how you will see the best results from all your hard work.

My best advice, and one I have been learning for the past thirty years, is to love your body and treat it well, and it will always return the favor. For me, that means eating the best foods that will fuel my body best and will help me to look and feel amazing. It means moving my body because I love it, and I know it feels better when I do. The more you learn to hone and listen to your body, the more you will start to see shifts in your health and wellness!

A Girlfriend’s Guide To Protein!


Have you ever wondered why protein is such a big deal, in helping you lose weight? As a personal trainer and nutrition specialist, I see firsthand how much getting the right amount of protein can make all the difference! In my handy dandy FREE protein guide, I dive into how to calculate the right amount of protein for your body. I also share some of the easiest and yummiest ways to up your protein intake as a bonus!

Good Luck!

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  1. Mallory Lanz says:

    So helpful to know how to fuel my body before and after workouts.

  2. So helpful! Thank you!

  3. So important, thanks for these tips!

  4. We just started a new workout routine so this is quite helpful!

  5. Karen Schott says:

    Great tips! Thanks for these suggestions!

  6. Matt Taylor says:

    This is awesome information, I always wonder what I should eat before and after a workout. I must say, the pic with that protein shake bottle is awesome. I have one super similar to that, with the wire ball inside. It mixes up the protein powder so well, love it! haha

  7. I have always enjoyed working out but didn’t want to sacrifice eating good food too so this is definitely useful for me. Thank you for sharing these suggestions!

  8. I like to make a protein shake before working out, so I guess I’m on the right track! Now I just need to pack a snack for after 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    This is so helpful! I’ll have to show my husband this as well. Thank you for sharing your pre and post-workout nutrition ideas. Some great ideas on increasing protein intake here!

  10. I had been struggling with what to do for working out and it has discouraged me but this has helped so much.

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