What to Eat Before and After Every Workout, According to Fitness Pros
When we work out on an empty stomach, we feel faint. When we work out with a full stomach, we feel like we’re going to throw up. So what should we eat before a sweat sesh (and after, for that matter)? We went right to the source and checked in with six NYC fitness pros to get their recommendations on what to eat before different types of exercise.
"I recommend eating something hearty like oatmeal and fruit a couple of hours before class and coming to practice on a fairly empty stomach. After class is a great time to pay close attention to what your body is truly craving—whole grains and simple, healthy proteins are always a good option!"
-Joanna Cohen, instructor at Y7 Yoga Studio
“Before a rowing class, I recommend a hard-boiled egg and a piece of fruit (maybe with nut butter). The goal is to have a protein and a carb, ideally anywhere between 3 hours and 30 minutes ahead of the workout. After class, I’d recommend eating a carb and a protein relatively soon after. That could be salmon or chicken with brown rice and veggies. Getting lots of color variety in the veggies is key. A good salad, with spinach or kale, chicken or chickpeas, broccoli, olives, quinoa, and a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil; don’t go crazy on the dressing!”
- Gretchen Raddatz, coach at Row House in NYC
“About 45 minutes to an hour before a workout, try to eat something light that is a combo of carbs and protein that will give you immediate energy, such a banana with peanut butter, whole-wheat toast with almond butter, Greek yogurt with trail mix or a smoothie with some protein. Within 45 minutes of finishing your workout, try to refuel with a protein-heavy snack or meal such as oatmeal with fruit and nuts, eggs with avocado or grilled chicken with sweet potatoes. This helps with repairing all the muscles that you worked so hard. Also, don't forget to hydrate! Drinking a ton of water before working out will keep you going longer and also help reduce soreness after.”
-Jess Sims, instructor at The Fhitting Room in NYC
“Before a workout, I recommend eating a piece of fruit (like a banana for potassium) or complex carbs for energy (like oatmeal). Afterward, I recommend eggs (they’re a good complete protein source with branch-chain amino acids for faster recovery) and avocado (the body needs good fat, and the monounsaturated fat is especially good for muscle repair). The goal after a workout is to replenish the body’s glycogen, so it’s important to get a balanced meal in with protein to rebuild the muscle that was broken down in the workout and fuel the body.”
-Ashley Guarrasi, founding trainer at Rumble
“Before my workouts, I encourage my athletes to eat complex carbs (my favorite is rolled oats with peanut butter and chia seeds) 45 to 60 minutes prior to the workout. And then maybe a banana 20 to 30 minutes before. The key is not to work out hungry, because that's like trying to run a car on no fuel. On the other hand, you don't want to be too full. An hour after my workout, I like to eat lean protein, a green (spinach or kale) and another veggie (maybe sweet potatoes, broccoli or Brussels sprouts).”
-Jared Stein, owner and coach at WillyB CrossFit in Brooklyn
"Before class, I recommend eating something light but with fast-burning carbs for energy. Fruit is a quick and easy whole food option for many people and also readily available. After class, aim for a mix of protein and carbs to refuel the body and restore glycogen. You want to eat within 30 minutes post working out. A protein-packed smoothie or grilled chicken with veggies are great options."
-Dyan Tsiumis, head instructor at Swerve Fitness