Best Foods to Eat Before and After a Workout

A healthy body is like a high-performance engine that is always to be kept in top-class with nutrition and exercise, for health and longevity. If exercise is like fortifying the engine with sturdy and strong parts, nutrition is the fuel that helps it perform at its best.

And not dealing-in the right nutrition can sometimes be the difference between meeting your strength goals and falling short of them. If you are about to start a workout to strengthen your engine you need to know about the right fuel and right amounts before and after the workout.

So to help you with nutrition we want to shed light on the best foods to eat before and after a workout and here we go:

Exercise Nutrition: Why eat before a workout?

Working out in a fasted state has been a common practice that can work with fat loss when the intensity of the exercise is at a lower level. But if you are into even moderate training, fuelling up before a workout is extremely important to help you effectively perform your exercise and get more calories burning. Not eating enough before your workout can impact your workout performance, can make you dizzy and increase the chance of injury due to poor exercise form and take away your exercise gains.

Carbohydrates and Protein – The pillars of exercise nutrition:

Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel source for the body for every daily activity and also during exercise. As we consume carbohydrates every day, while some of them are spent on daily activities remaining are stored in muscles and liver reservoirs for future energy expenditure. The reservoir can be limited and your body will need extra carbohydrates to fully fuel your workouts and our aim here is to fuel your body with the right sources of carbohydrate before a workout. And as fast-absorbing protein is found to have increase anabolic signalizing to improve exercise performance the best pre-workout meal must supply an adequate amount of carbohydrates and protein with minimal fat as possible.

Best foods to eat before a workout:

So in essence, below is how your pre-workout meal should look like based on when your exercise is going to start:

If workout starts in 2-3 hours (or more):

Since your body has enough time to digest, you can choose natural and healthy carbohydrates in the form of oatmeal, brown rice, brown bread, pasta. You must add a good chunk of protein-dense foods to the mix with meat and eggs with a good dose of healthy fats in the form of almonds, flax seeds along with green veggies. If you do not have access to many foods you can simply stick with rice and meat for starters in case you have a god 2-3 hours before a workout.
If your work out starts in 60 minutes or less:

If you have less than 60 minutes to your workout your pick of carbohydrates, protein and fats must be simple and fast-absorbing to provide you adequate energy quickly. One scoop of fast-absorbing protein (Whey protein) or protein bar with 1- 2 cups of carb foods: Bananas, bread, yogurt, or a piece of fruit can serve as a good pre-workout meal.

Best foods after workout: 

Choosing the right foods before a workout in a tad simpler compared to the pre-workout times. Since you have depleted your body off the carbohydrates, you need to fill the body with a healthy source of carbohydrates right away. And protein had to be the most important macronutrient for muscle building after a workout. Below are the best foods to quickly take care of the carbohydrates and protein requirements:

Carbohydrates:  White/brown bread, brown rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, pasta, fruits, green and leafy vegetables.

Protein: Fast absorbing protein, meat, eggs, paneer & lentils, salmon, tuna & Greek yogurt.

While carbohydrates trigger recovery, and protein repairs and build muscles to help you strengthen your body. So make sure you have an adequate amount of protein (1gm/kg) within 1 hour after the workout for better results.

However, if you are suffering from joint pains and your total potential is limited you need to pick the right exercises to ward off the pains and also need to dial in the nutrition for better recovery. If you need help with picking the right exercises to improve joint function and strengthen your body, joint specialist and orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Niraj Vora can help you. You can find him here: