Skip to main content

The right foods to eat before and after exercise

Comment

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with the advertisers of this site.

Knowing what to eat before and after a workout is essential during an intense or long session (an hour or more). A pre-exercise snack can give you energy, and eating after exercise is important because that’s when cells are ready to absorb carbs and protein, says Christy Alexon, associate professor of nutrition. at Arizona State University in Phoenix.

You may need to experiment with foods and timing to find what works best for you, but here are some basics.

If you had lunch at 1 p.m. and plan to train at 2 or 3 p.m., you don’t need to eat anything else. But if it’s been more than two hours since you last had a meal, have a small snack about an hour before exercise, says Alexon. Aim for 20 to 30 grams of carbs and 5 to 10 grams of protein, she says: “Avoid anything high in fat or high in fiber because it will take longer to digest.” A banana with peanut butter, a hard-boiled egg with toast, or a granola bar and string cheese would work.

Nutritious snacks for the over 50s

Muscles burn glucose to produce energy. Long or intense workouts can deplete your reserves and you can start using your muscles for fuel. To help prevent muscle loss, eat within 45 minutes after cardio, preferably sooner, says Alexon. After strength training, eat within 40 minutes to promote better recovery and muscle building. Either way, grab something with a 2:1 carb to protein ratio, like a tuna sandwich on wholemeal bread and a small piece of fruit.

Be sure to drink enough fluids before, during, and after workouts to stay hydrated. According to the American Council on Exercise, a person can lose a liter or more of water by exercising for an hour, depending on exercise intensity and air temperature. He recommends drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water two hours before a workout and 7 to 10 ounces for every 10 to 20 minutes of exercise.

Copyright 2022, Consumer Reports Inc.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works alongside consumers to create a fairer, safer and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services and does not accept advertising. Learn more at ConsumerReports.org.