Pre & Post Workout Nutrition

Your PRE and POST workout meals are the meals you eat before and after working out.
The Pre workout meal has many benefits including more energy during your workouts, protecting hard earned muscle and preventing muscle breakdown, while also improving energy.
The Post workout meal has many benefits too including the prevention of muscle breakdown and increasing protein synthesis rates. This means after a workout your body is primed to suck in nutrients so the carbs you eat helps shuttle protein into your muscles and recover faster. This meal also provides glycogen replenishment. Intense workouts use glycogen as fuel, which is stored in your muscles and liver. Eating ample carbs post workout not only promotes protein synthesis, but also helps replenish energy stores to feel vigorous for the rest of the day.

Here’s a breakdown of what your pre-workout meal should look like:

Dietary Fat – Because fat takes the longest to digest, the pre-workout meal should be relatively low in fat, so stay away from fatty meats and oils.
Protein – A moderate amount of a meat (4-8 ounces) or dairy sources that are low in fat can work. A major benefit of meat, or dairy is they contain Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA), which can help increase the rate of protein synthesis and decrease protein breakdown during and after your workout.
Carbohydrates – Low Glycemic (slowly releases into blood stream) carbohydrates should help fill up glycogen stores to help you power through a tough workout and also create a more anabolic effect.

What you eat before (and if needed, during) your workout is crucial for fueling the workout itself and maximizing your performance throughout.

Specifically, the primary goal of the PRE workout meal is to accomplish the following:
• Reduce muscle glycogen depletion.
• Reduce muscle protein breakdown.
• Reduce post workout cortisol levels.
• Option A: 60-90 minutes pre-workout, have a solid, balanced meal containing…
Protein = 0.25g per pound of your target body weight.
Carbs = 0.25g per pound of your target body weight.
• Option B: 30-0 minutes pre-workout – (and/or sipped throughout the workout), have a liquid or easily digested meal containing…
Protein = 0.25g per pound of your target body weight.
Carbs = 0.25g per pound of your target body weight.

The challenge is finding out how much food you can eat pre-workout, which is based on your own response. Some people can eat a full meal as little as an hour before a workout, while some others who have sensitive stomachs can wait 3-4 hours. In general, a meal around 500-600 calories for a 180lb man 2-3 hours pre-workout should be plenty as a solid pre-workout meal during a fat loss program.

Pre-Workout Meal Ideas
Yogurt parfait
Top ¼ cup nonfat yogurt with ½ cup whole grain cereal and ½ cup fresh strawberries.
Dressed up oats
½ cup cooked steel-cut oats topped with 1-tablespoon dried fruit and 1 tablespoon shaved almonds.
PB Apple
Slice 1 medium apple and serve with 2 tablespoons all-natural peanut butter.
Fruit & Cottage
Top ½ cup cottage cheese — a low calorie and higher protein option — with ½ cup fresh pineapple, berries, or melon.
Other ideas:
Oatmeal with Whey Protein Mixed In (great if you have a sensitive stomach)
2 Whole Eggs, 2 Egg Whites, Peppers, Onions, Low fat Cheese, Grapefruit/Oatmeal
Turkey Wrap with veggies (add carbs as needed)
6 Ounces Grilled Chicken with yam and asparagus
medium sized banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter
1 cup of oatmeal with a tbsp. of honey
16+ ounces of water can help you optimize your performance

Specifically, the goal of the POST workout meal is to accomplish the following:
• Replenish muscle glycogen that was depleted during your workout.
• Reduce muscle protein breakdown caused by exercise.
• Increase muscle protein synthesis.
• Reduce muscle soreness and fatigue.
• Greatly enhance overall recovery.
• Reduce cortisol levels.

• Option A: 60-90 minutes post-workout, have a solid, balanced meal containing…
Protein = 0.25g per pound of your target body weight.
Carbs = 0.25g per pound of your target body weight.
• Option B: 30-0 minutes post-workout – (and/or sipped throughout the workout), have a liquid or easily digested meal containing…
Protein = 0.25g per pound of your target body weight.
Carbs = 0.25g per pound of your target body weight.

Post-workout meal suggestions:
Sweet potato pie shake
Combine 1 scoop of cinnamon bun whey protein, ¼ cup diced cooked sweet potato, 1 cup of ice, and 1 cup vanilla almond milk in the blender
Bananarama
One medium sliced banana with 1 cup low fat milk
Green Monster smoothie
Blend 4 cups spinach, ½ cup vanilla bean yogurt, 1 cup almond milk, 1 banana, and 1 tablespoon peanut butter with ice
Bagel with egg whites
Half a medium-sized whole grain bagel with 2 eggs whites
Cottage cheese crunch
One cup fat-free cottage cheese, 1 teaspoon honey, ½ cup whole-grain cereal, and a dash of cinnamon
Chicken hash
1 cup cooked diced chicken, ½ cup butternut squash and apples, roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper
• What you eat after your workout is crucial for optimizing the recovery process (which basically begins as soon as your workout ends) and ensuring that your body has all of the supplies it needs in order to recover, adapt and improve the way you want it to.

Need Help?

Book a free 30-minute consultation with Jordan!

Jordan Gross

Registered Dietitian