No matter how you like to exercise, you need food to fuel your workouts. Your body needs nutrients both before and after to perform at its best. Since you may not always have time for a meal, have these power snacks ready to go.
Before Exercise: Energize! The key to a successful workout is giving your body fuel—exercising on an empty stomach leads to a less beneficial workout (there’s no gas in the tank). Since you don’t want to feel weighed down by a heavy meal—a light snack is all you need.
How many calories you need to eat will vary from person to person but 100-150 is a good place to start (a serious athlete or very active man will need more). Aim to have the snack 1 to 2 hours before a workout and choose foods that are high in energy-producing carbohydrates. If your snack is too high in protein or fat, you won’t digest it in time and you risk cramping and burping through your workout. Our top picks: fresh fruit, non fat yogurt, dry cereal, pretzels, low fat granola bars
After Exercise: Recover Post exercise your body craves more healthy carbs along with protein to replenish energy stores and repair tired muscles. Eating a healthy snack right after is the best way to prepare for your next workout. Ideally, choose foods with a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein (examples below) and get that snack within 30 to 60 minutes post workout when muscle cells are most sensitive.
Our top picks: smoothies, trail mix, chocolate milk, cottage cheese and fruit, cereal with milk, 1/2 a turkey sandwich, apple with peanut butter
In a pinch, a protein bar can come in handy, but some brands are better than others.
Stay Hydrated One of the leading causes of fatigue during exercise is dehydration.
Recipes to Try: Blueberry Blast Smoothie
- 1/2 cup nonfat or 1 percent lowfat milk
- 1/2 cup non fat plain yogurt
- 1 cup frozen blueberries (unsweetened)
- 1 teaspoon honey
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 cups crisp brown rice cereal
- 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
- 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1/2 cup chopped dried figs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine honey, peanut butter, maple syrup, canola oil, brown sugar, cinnamon. Stir and cook until mixture just begins to bubble, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
In a large bowl, combine oats, rice cereal, wheat germ, peanuts, apricots, figs and salt.
Pour peanut butter mixture over oatmeal mixture and stir gently with a spatula until well combined. Transfer to baking dish, cover with parchment paper and press firmly into dish. Allow to cool completely (will cool faster in the refrigerator). Cut into squares or bars.
Nutrition analysis per serving:
Total fat: 10g
Saturated fat: 1.5g
- 1 cup cocoa-dusted almonds
- 1 cup dry-roasted almonds
- 1 cup pitted dried dates, chopped
- 1 cup raisins (golden or regular)
- 1 cup prunes, chopped
- 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
Combined all ingredient and store in airtight containers.
- 3 cups vanilla nonfat yogurt
- 1 cup fresh or defrosted frozen strawberries
- 1 pint fresh blackberries, raspberries or blueberries
- 1 cup good quality granola
Layer 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt into the bottom each of 4 tall glasses. Combine defrosted strawberries and juice with fresh berries. Alternate layers of fruit and granola with yogurt until glasses are filled to the top. Serve parfaits immediately to keep granola crunchy.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer.