As a general rule, you want to have a meal or snack that provides a good source of carbohydrates and at least 300 calories before an endurance workout. That mean should contain some carbohydrates and protein and have a lesser amount of fat. You’ll want to eat 1-3 hours prior to exercise, depending upon how well you tolerate fueling up prior to exercise. You’ll need to test various calorie levels and foods and timing to see what works best to “dial in” your pre-workout meals.
Here are some simple strategies to follow when you want to know what to eat before and after exercise:
- Focus on whole foods as much as possible.
- Use sports nutrition products (drinks, bars, gels, blocks, etc) for their convenience factor but don’t rely on them for daily nutrition.
- No food (hydrate only) is necessary during training unless you are working out longer than 90 minutes.
- Combine complex carbohydrate and protein whenever possible to maintain blood sugar levels
- Maintain good hydration levels throughout training and racing to help metabolize nutrients.
- Learn proper timing of food intake for your own body.
While everyone is different, here are some common choices for pre-exercise and post-exercise eats.
- Mini bagel or toast with peanut butter
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Greek yogurt and blueberries
- Almonds and dates (or other dried fruit and nuts)
- Cereal with milk
- Toast with banana and PB
- Pasta salad
- Apple or banana with PB or almond butter
- Oatmeal topped with Greek yogurt or nut butter
- Turkey-Veggie wrap
- Protein smoothie
- Whole grain crackers and low fat cheese
- High protein cereal and skim milk
- Chocolate milk
- Edemame and Quinoa Salad
- Cottage Cheese and slivered almonds
- Brown Rice and Beans
- Apple and walnuts
- Pasta salad with chicken