Should You Eat Before or After a Workout?


Before Workout

© Photo by Jocelyn Hsu Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

To eat or not to eat… Is that the question? That might have been the question a few years ago, but today, things have changed. Aggressive marketing of workout-related products such as energy drinks and protein shakes is now making people believe that they need to eat before or after a workout. Well, they’ve succeeded in creating this market, so let’s get down to compiling the facts and debunking the myths we have seen floating around.

Before Workout


It is important to provide fuel to your body. As the website Dailyburn mentions: “The first source of energy, lasting just a few seconds, comes from the breakdown of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is naturally found in the body. Next, the body uses glucose (sugar) for immediate but longer lasting energy. Finally, during endurance training, the body starts to break down stored carbohydrates, called glycogen, to provide sustained energy.”

So working out without eating anything might cause damage to your body.


  • One important thing you must keep in mind is that you should not exercise on an empty stomach. No fitness trainer should advise their trainees to do so because the common belief that exercising on an empty stomach burns more calories is a myth. No one is asking you to gorge on food and fill yourself up, but the intake of some small amount of food is necessary for the energy that your body will require.
  • Try to consume more carbs for energy, proteins for body recovery, healthy fats for endurance, and fluids.
  • Try to minimize unhealthy fats and fibers.
  • Keep a gap of at least an hour between food consumption and workout session and perform some small exercises to digest the food as well. For big meals, maintain a gap of 3-4 hours.

Here is a list of things you can eat before your workout:

1. Bananas

Bananas are handy fruits © Photo by Jocelyn Hsu Bananas-2

Bananas are handy fruits you can eat right before your workout. They are not at all heavy and provide you with the necessary fast-acting carbohydrates.

2. Coffee

© Photo by Aakanksha Joshi Photo by Aakanksha Joshi

Coffee is already well known for its energy-generating capabilities, so you can add this to your pre-workout diet as well.

3. Egg Whites

Egg Whites © Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of

While yolk has a slow rate of digestion, egg whites are easier to digest and are rich in protein. One egg white has around 4 grams of protein.

4. Greek Yogurt and Trail Mix/Dried Fruits

Greek Yogurt and Trail Mix

© Photo by Justin Schuble Photo by Justin Schuble

Greek yogurt is healthy and easy to digest. Trail mix containing dried fruits is great at providing energy. If taken in the right amount, this can be a great energy supplement for your workout.

5. Smoothies

Smoothies © Photo by Aakanksha Joshi Photo by Aakanksha Joshi

Fruit smoothies are also a great option for your pre-workout food intake. Fruit smoothies are good because they have the right amount of proteins and carbs, and can be digested pretty fast.

6. Oats


© Photo by Christin Urso Photo by Christin Urso

Oats can be your best workout buddy when it comes to providing energy. Oats slowly release sugar into your bloodstream and ensure that you don’t get fatigued during your workout.

7. Apples

apples © Provided by Spoon University apples_mixed

Some fitness trainers also suggest eating apple wedges some time before working out. It is easy to digest and provides your body with the required sugar, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

During Workout

Some people also suggest snacking during workout, but that depends on how much food you’ve had before your workout. If you’ve eaten well before your workout, you can ditch the protein shakes and bars.

A portal on the Internet also suggested that snacking during workout may not be as beneficial after all. You can read more about it here.

After Workout

Now that you’ve spent a few hours working out and have lost some amount of fat, it’s time you replenish the important nutrients you’ve lost.


After you workout, your body muscles need to be provided with the nutrients they need to prevent too much fatigue. WebMD says, “A new study shows that eating a low-carbohydrate meal after aerobic exercise enhances insulin sensitivity. Increased insulin sensitivity makes it easier for the body to take up sugar from the bloodstream and store it in muscles and other tissues where it can be used for fuel. Impaired insulin sensitivity, or insulin resistance, increases the risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.”

So to avoid these risks, you should eat food after your workout as well.


  • Drink lots of water (room temperature, not freezing cold) to replenish the fluids your body has lost.
  • Eat food that contains proteins and carbs.
  • Try to eat something within two hours of the workout so that your body can completely recover.

Here is a list of things you can eat:

1. Eggs

Eggs © Photo by Chelsea Choi Photo by Chelsea Choi

Eggs are light and are the best source of proteins. So these are a must for your post-workout meal.

2. Salmon

Salmon © Photo by Grégoire Durand Photo by Grégoire Durand

Salmon provides the body with a huge amount of proteins and the omega 3s found in salmon help rebuild muscles and enhance performance as well.

3. Pineapple

Pineapple © Photo by Alex Shapiro Photo by Alex Shapiro

Pineapples contain bromelain, a compound that has anti-inflammatory properties and can heal swelling, bruises and sprains.

4. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes © Photo by Sean Koetting Photo by Sean Koetting

Sweet potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, with three days’ worth of Vitamin A. A good bet? Of course.

5. Cherry Juice

Cherry Juice © Photo by Jocelyn Hsu Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

Cherry juice has a good amount of antioxidants which fight against muscle damage along with increasing the fluid content of your body.

6. Whey

Whey © Photo by Neelima Agrawal Photo by Neelima Agrawal

Whey is one of the richest sources of proteins, which also burns fat, restores energy and helps build body muscle.

7. Chicken

Chicken © Photo by Jocelyn Hsu Photo by Jocelyn Hsu

If you’re looking for a heavy, nutrient-rich dish, then any chicken dish with its proteins and carbohydrates is your best shot.

What Not To Eat:

Now that I’ve told you what you can eat before and after working out, let me tell you about what you should avoid at all costs to ensure that your workouts are successful.

  • Fried Food: Fried food is a strict no no.
  • Diet Soda: Another thing we suggest you avoid.
  • Junk Food: Junk food is full of those unhealthy fats which you’re trying to get rid of.
  • Processed Food: Lightly processed foods pose no such harm, but heavily processed food is laden with fat and sugar, and may cause serious health issues.
  • Spicy Food: Eating spicy food can cause heartburn during workout if it backwashes into your oesophagus.
  • Also, avoid foods with too much oil or sugar.

So the truth, in short, is: There is no definitive answer to that question. You can eat both before or after your workout session depending upon your schedule. But there are some important tips you must remember about eating before or after your workout and whether you choose to eat before or after your workout, you should make sure you take all the right precautions.