What to Eat Before and After a Workout
Find out which foods are the best fuel for your favorite workouts.
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A big part of getting a better workout is knowing what to munch on before and after each session. If you’re aiming to eat better to support your exercise routine, put these foods at the top of your shopping list.
Stupendously high in protein, this creamy dairy product is loaded with the best types of amino acids for building muscle after a workout. Add cottage cheese to smoothies and pancakes, or enjoy it topped with fresh fruit and granola.
Choosing a lean cut of poultry may not be all that surprising; it’s low in calories and fat but high in protein, with more than 20 grams per 3-ounce portion. But it’s all too easy to get bored with chicken — especially if it's dry — so keep your chicken juicy and flavorful by marinating, searing or roasting.
Recipe to Try: Lemon Chicken Breasts
This fruit is an ideal choice right before exercise since it can typically be digested quickly and easily. “Naners” are also full of B vitamins that assist with energy metabolism and muscle-loving minerals like potassium.
The Omega-3 fats in salmon benefit the skin, heart, eyes, blood and brain. These essential fats also have anti-inflammatory properties to help the body recover after exercise.
Recipe to Try: Oven-Baked Salmon
This plant-based protein stacks up well against any meat. Make it part of a healthy and satisfying dinner following an afternoon run or bike ride.
Recipe to Try: Tofu Tacos
This childhood favorite isn’t just for kiddos. Low-fat chocolate milk is one-stop shopping for what the body craves following a workout. Each sip provides fluid, protein, carbs, vitamin D, calcium and other electrolytes vital to muscle recovery.
In addition to a wealth of cell-protecting antioxidants, beets and beet juice provide compounds that help promote circulation to prime the body for activity. Add raw or cooked beets to smoothies, along with tangy ingredients like pineapple and lime, or serve a pile of roasted beets on a salad.
Learn More: How to Peel and Juice a Beet
There’s room for both Greek and traditional yogurt in your fitness food repertoire. Choose regular yogurt for a light pre-workout snack and take advantage of the extra dose of vitamin D. Reach for higher-protein Greek yogurt after exercise to help soothe tired muscles.
Many exercise enthusiasts shy away from carbs, not realizing they are imperative for high-powered energy production. Sweet potatoes are a user-friendly and versatile option for meals and snacks. Make a batch of chips to snack on or soup to sip on before an afternoon exercise class, or shred and saute sweet potatoes in a skillet with eggs for a post-workout breakfast.
Recipes to Try: Our Best Healthy Sweet Potato Recipes