The Best Foods to Eat Before and After Working Out

What you eat before and even after a workout can affect your body's ability to get stronger. These healthy options can help.

best pre-workout foods

We spoke with Peak Performance trainer Katie Mack about the best foods to eat before a workout to help you achieve your fitness goals. 

  • Protein: Filling your plate with protein-rich foods before a workout can help your body build lean muscles – plus, it will be easier for those muscles to recover after working out.
  • Carbs: Consuming foods with carbohydrates prior to working out can help stimulate the release of insulin, which when managed properly, can help with health, body composition and performance. However, Mack cautions to keep portions small to moderate before a workout.
  • Healthy fats: Healthy fats give you energy and important vitamins and minerals. Like carbohydrates, though, too many fatty foods can slow digestion and make it more difficult to work out. 

And what's best to eat after your workout? While it can be tempting to indulge at your next meal (after all, you've earned it, right?), Mack says that the foods you choose after you've left the gym can still help – or hurt – your fitness progress. "Healthy protein and carb sources after a workout will allow you to recover better and have a better subsequent workout, as well as being helpful for your body composition," she says.

For a post-workout meal, Mack recommends making a smoothie with whey protein powder and fruits like bananas and berries, or eating any combination of protein and carbs. Great options include lean meat or fish (such as chicken, turkey, cod and haddock), egg whites, Greek yogurt, brown or white rice, sweet or white potatoes, rice cakes with jam or jelly, oats, or even a bagel.