What to Eat to Fuel Your Workout

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

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

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.

Sandwiches

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

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.