What to Eat to Fuel Your Workout

Eat these foods to help you power up, refuel and recharge before and after a workout.
Related To:

Photo By: denphumi

Photo By: Roel Smart

Photo By: Aniya4you

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Barbara Helgason

Photo By: Andy Dean ©Andy Dean Photography


Milk is an ideal recovery beverage post-workout. It delivers water, sodium (an electrolyte you need to replenish after an intense workout), carbohydrates (which replenish your spent energy stores) and protein (needed for muscle repair). Some research has suggested that milk—and even chocolate milk—does as well as commercial sports drinks beverages for recovery and muscle repair.

Banana and Peanut Butter

Bananas deliver quick-digesting carbs, while the peanut butter gives you some protein. If you’re having this before a workout, stick to just a tablespoon of peanut butter (fat keeps food in your stomach longer, which could make your workout uncomfortable).

Lowfat Cottage Cheese and Berries

This combo gives you lean protein, salt and some carbs—three things that make it an ideal pre- or post-workout snack.


Smoothies are endlessly versatile and easy-to-make, which makes it a perfect on-the-go meal or snack before or after your workout. Before your workout, stick to fast-digesting fruits and lowfat dairy. After your workout, add some protein—nut butters work well. Use frozen blueberries to make Ellie Krieger’s Blueberry Blast Smoothie.


Bread is actually pretty high in salt, which you need after an intense workout. Fill it with a protein (roasted chicken or turkey, tuna, etc.) and some veggies for a nourishing meal after your workout. Keep in mind that the size of the bread and filling can make a sandwich’s calorie count vary widely—to keep it snack-sized, stick to one slice of whole-wheat bread or a small pita and fill it with just 2 – 3 ounces of meat.

Snack Bars

There are so many bars on the market these days and they can be an easy, portable snack before or after your workout, giving you protein and carbs. Make a batch of Alton Brown’s granola bars and store in an airtight container for up to a week.


Water is the single most important thing you need for exercise. If you’re dehydrated, you won’t perform as well. For a refreshing alternative, try making an Agua Fresca.

Next Up

Summer Cooking (and Eating), Alex Guarnaschelli Style

Hear from Alex Guarnaschelli to learn her favorite seasonal eats, plus what she piles on top of her ultimate burger.

Healthy Microwave Cooking

We’re not talking about zapping frozen entrees. How about real ingredients and healthy meals straight out of the microwave oven!?

Healthy Cooking Method: Parchment Packet Cooking

This easy cooking method doesn't use a lot of fat to flavor food, plus everything's made in one packet so there's very little cleanup required. Learn how to cook in parchment.

Healthy Dinners, No Cooking Required

You can't close out summer without going on a no-cook dinner spree. Here are five ways to not turn on the oven.

Healthy Cooking Tool: Hand Blender

One essential cooking tool for healthy home cooks: a hand blender. Do you own one?

More Tools For Healthy Cooking

Every kitchen should have a few essential cooking tools to prep healthy meals. Here are a few of our favorites.