What should you eat before and after a workout?

Author: Grow Team
Date: 30/04/2018
Category: Nutrition

Class booked? Check. Trainers and gym kit packed? Check. So, you’re ready for your workout, right? Actually, you might be neglecting one crucial part of the prep – fuel.

When you’re working out regularly, it’s important to make sure that your body has the nutrients it needs to perform optimally. But it can be tricky knowing what to eat and when. You need to provide your body with the energy that it needs to work hard, without eating so much that you end up feeling sluggish as your body struggles to digest while you train.


Digestion takes several hours, so avoid eating a huge meal just before you work out. A proper meal should be eaten about 2 to 3 hours before you plan to exercise, whereas a snack containing easily-digestible carbs can be eaten as close as 45 minutes to 1 hour before your workout.

For pre-workout snacks or meals, carbs are essential. The media may love to demonise them, but the truth is that we NEED carbohydrates – they are our bodies primary source of fuel and give us the energy that we need to work out. When we eat carbs, our bodies break them down into glucose, which is stored in the muscles in the form of glycogen and used when we exercise. Providing your body with extra carbs before a workout means you’re less likely to feel weak and throw in the towel. For more information on carbs, check out our blog, The Truth About Carbs

A few good ideas for pre-workout meals or snacks:

– Whole wheat toast with banana. The toast will fuel your body with slow-release, complex carbohydrates, while the banana provides a quicker kick of energy

– Oatmeal with fruit. You can adjust the serving size depending on when you’re planning to work out

– Rice cakes with peanut or almond butter


Eating after a workout is incredibly important – not only do you need to a protein boost, it’s essential to replace the glycogen that has been depleted during the workout. Try to eat something immediately after your workout and at least within a 2-hour window.

Protein is super important because of the role it has in maintaining and building muscle. Check out our blog on macronutrients here for more information on the role of protein.  If you want a quick protein kick, look for shakes that offer 20g per serving, without lots of artificial sweeteners. Other good sources include things like beans, nuts and seeds, lentils and tofu. When it comes to replenishing glycogen, focus on complex carbohydrates, like quinoa or brown rice.

As well as making sure that you eat the right things before and after a workout, it’s key to stay hydrated throughout. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty – by that time, your body is actually already dehydrated. Make sure to drink plenty leading up to your workout (aim for at least 2 cups 2 hours before you work out) and keep replenishing after you’re done.

Optimise your workout

Eating and hydrating effectively is essential to fuel your workout – but it shouldn’t just be about getting you through it. The food you eat before your workout is crucial for your performance, and will maximise the work you do when you train.

Whether you’re lifting heavy weights or performing a high-volume hypertrophy style workout, being “carb-loaded” will ensure you have the energy needed for optimal form. This is key when you’re looking to reach new personal bests and make clear progress.

It is easily overlooked, but pre-workout nutrition can make a huge difference when it comes to reaching new personal bests and really getting the most out of your workouts. Talk to our trainers and see what they would recommend for the ideal pre-workout snack.

If you’re looking to optimise your nutrition and exercise, then Personal Training might be for you! Book in for your free initial consultation today by emailing the team at hello@growfitness.co.uk

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