How To Eat To Stay Fit Before, During, And After A Workout

By Subodh / June 20, 2013

English essayist and poet John Addison once wrote, “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” And by the time you finish reading this article, you will be well versed in how to eat to stay fit!

The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture, set dietary guidelines in 2010, and then re-released them in 2011. Here is a brief overview of those guidelines:

  • Enjoy the foods you eat, but try to eat less food overall.
  • Avoid oversized portions – no super-sized fast food meals!
  • Veggies and fruits should take up half your plate at meal times
  • Drink 1% or skim milk whenever possible to lower fat intake
  • Read labels and choose foods with lower amounts of sodium
  • Replace sugary drinks like soda or juice with water

Just improving your knowledge of what to eat can help you stay fit as a fiddle, but balancing a healthy diet with exercise is the ideal lifestyle for humans everywhere. This includes knowing what to eat before and after a workout.

post workout snacks

Balancing Diet and Exercise for Maximum Fitness

Today’s busy humans often have a hard time balancing their jobs, families, and recreational hobbies, much less fitting in time for regular exercise or workouts at the gym. But the only way to have a healthy lifestyle is to include both diet and exercise.

Talk to your doctor and know how many calories you need per day, and then talk to a dietitian to learn what types of foods can keep you within this guideline. Often your health insurance will cover these costs, especially if you have a chronic condition made worse by carrying extra pounds.

You not only have to know what types of foods to eat at mealtimes but you also have to know what foods will benefit your body most as snacks before and after your workout or other exercise routine. Eating the wrong things can cause more harm than good!

  • BEFORE A WORKOUT – Within an hour or so of beginning exercise, you should drink at least 16 ounces of water (but no more than 20 ounces) to stay hydrated as you sweat those extra calories away. You should also have a small snack like an energy bar, pretzels, or fruits like pineapple, banana, or apricots.
  • DURING A WORKOUT – Whether or not you eat during a workout depends on your body type and what it can handle as well as what type of workout you are doing. If it is 30 minutes of interval training, then save the protein bars for later. But if you are biking twenty miles in an afternoon, then carry some energy snacks!
  • AFTER A WORKOUT – The post-workout snack rebuilds muscle tissue and replaces glycogen lost during exercise. Great snacks for this include banana protein shakes, peanut butter on a rice cake, hummus and fresh veggies or pita bread strips, yogurt, or a turkey and cheese wrap.

Using Protein for Building Muscle

Your muscles are about 2/3 water and about 1/3 protein. This explains why it is so important for humans to keep hydrated and get enough protein. Without those two things in your body, your body will have trouble developing and rebuilding muscle cells.

During your workout, muscle tissue begins to break down. You can help your body naturally rebuild that muscle when you consume protein from a source like foods or some type of whey powder. Natural sources are better than pills because the body can more easily digest them.

Benefits of Adding Protein to Your Post-Workout Diet

Adding protein-based snacks to your post-workout regime can help you burn excess fat. Eliminating your love handles, spare tire, upper arm flab, or thigh jiggle improves your physique, boosts your self-confidence, and promotes better physical well-being.

And finally when you add protein to your post-workout diet, whether it is directly through foods or by adding natural whey protein powder to a banana shake it can help suppress your appetite until your next meal.

If snacking on meats, nuts, and soy products alone after your exercise routine are not providing the above benefits, talk to your doctor about adding natural whey supplements to your snacks, like oatmeal or shakes. Your muscles will love you for it, and you will love your leaner, stronger appearance!

Sophie Evans is not your stereotypical California girl. While this freelance writer is a self-confessed Starbucks junkie, she spends her days perusing sites like as both research and inspiration for the articles she writes. When she isn’t working, this married mother of two enjoys visiting nearby Balboa Beach and Disneyland with her family.