Did you know what you eat before and after your workout matters? Eating the right things at the right time can increase your performance and focus, boost your energy levels, and even help your muscles recover. But eating the wrong things at the wrong time can make you feel sluggish, sick, and even contribute to loss of muscle or injury.

Chances are, you’ve probably had a bad experience with eating the wrong thing too close to your workout. I’ve had a bad run in with a pre-workout cheesy quesadilla that went very wrong. Trust me, I don’t recommend it.

What I do recommend is knowing exactly what and when to eat, so that you can be properly fueled to have the best experience possible during your workout. Without further ado, let’s get to the facts!

What and When to Eat Before a Workout?

Eat a low-glycemic (low Gl) carbohydrate snack 45-60 minutes prior to exercise.

What’s so great about this snack in particular is you’re eating carbs, which are the body’s preferred energy source during exercise. You’re literally giving your body the energy it needs.

Good examples of a low GI snack include apples, peanuts, beans, lentils, chickpeas, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, most vegetables, and green bananas.

Why low GI carbs in particular are best, is your body takes longer to digest them, providing slow sustaining energy for your entire workout. Whereas a high GI carb will be absorbed quickly, so you’ll hit an energy high, and mid-workout you’ll feel a big energy crash. So stick to those low GI carbs and you will be golden!

What and When to Eat After a Workout?

Eat a 4:1 carb to protein snack as close to ending your workout as possible, or at least within 2 hours of workout completion.

This snack is even more important than the snack you eat prior to your workout because you are literally providing your body with the energy it needs to recover, rebuild, grow stronger.

Let’s break this down: As you exercise, stress is placed on your muscles, little tears are produced in your muscles. Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds. These micro tears are actually what allow your muscles to rebuild and grow stronger. However, because of these tiny tears, it’s essential that you take refueling and rest.

If you don’t refuel, your muscles may be weakened and possibly even damaged, making your following workouts and overall progress that much more difficult. So please give those muscles the fuel they need. Your muscles will directly use that snack to initiate the recovery process.

Examples of 4:1 carb to protein snacks are apples & peanut butter, chocolate milk, or Greek yogurt with bananas or a handful of berries.

A Word on Overall Nutrition

Particularly if you’re trying to lose weight, sound nutrition plays a huge role in what results you ultimately see. This means, what you eat throughout the entire day is critical. Everything you’re putting into your body is fueling the outcome of your goals and ambitions. Sounds ominous, but you are what you eat, right?

I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty details, but would love to recommend our Nutrition 101 article as a great place to start. If you’re serious about seeing progress get your doctor or nutritionist on board to help you create a plan that’s both individualized and practical for you.

Good luck, and don’t forget to fuel up both before and after your workouts to see the best results!