I often get questions regarding what to eat before your workout. Because food and energy needs vary from person to person, from workout to workout and by time of day, I typically recommend keeping a food journal. However, there are a few guidelines that you can start out with. Pay attention to how your workout feels after eating different types of foods. Also, pay attention to how you feel for the rest of the week. Your best food journal will not only include what you eat, but also what your workouts look like and how you feel both during and after your fitness routine.

Yogurt is healthy, can I eat that before my workout?

My first recommendation is avoid dairy within 60 minutes before your workout. I can’t be all sciencey about this or give you big names to explain why it’s a bad idea, but I can say from personal and client experience it is a bad idea. I have eaten things such as yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, and some even regular cheese. Most times if these are eaten within the 60 minutes it causes intestinal distress or gas. Just don’t do it!

My protein shake is made from dairy, what about that?

I have been asked about protein shakes before workouts. Yes, whey and casein proteins are both derivatives of dairy products, but I do think these are ok depending on the type of workout you are about to do and how you feel after drinking these regularly. If you need something light before a morning working, a protein shake could be the way to go.

I never know what to eat before a morning workout.

I consider early morning anything before breakfast. Now this is a tricky one and it will take some experimenting, but here are a couple ideas that might work depending on what kind of workout you are doing. If you’re doing cardio, avoid liquids (so a shake may not be the best idea for this one). Eat something like fruit. The quick digesting sugars and quick digesting carbs are perfect for energy early in the morning and they won’t make your stomach upset. Another option is to grab a handful of almonds or a small granola bar pre-workout.

I like to work out on my lunch break. What and when should I eat?

At this time of day you will have already had something to eat and your blood will already be flowing from being up and moving. (Make sure you eat your breakfast!) A snack or late breakfast should be enough to get you through. You can have some sort of snack up to 30 minutes before your workout. Almonds, fruit, an amino acid drink or even coffee would be perfect for this.

What about after my workout?

Within 30 minutes of ending your workout, whether it’s cardio or weightlifting, you need to eat some protein. This is prime absorption time for your muscles and it will help you recover and build quality muscle after you are done. I recommend drinking a protein shake afterwards, but if you don’t like to drink those, then something as simple as an apple and some almonds is perfect. After that in another 30 to 60 min you will want to have a big meal whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Do you have a fitness or health related question? Let us know in the comments below!

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