Pre & Post Workout Nutrition & A Free E-Book Guide Download!

Pre & Post Workout Nutrition & A Free E-Book Guide Download! via Nutrition in the Kitch

I recently shared over on Instagram that I had taken a little hiatus from my normal exercise routine over the past few months and became rather inconsistent with working out. I used the excuse of Hemsley’s nap schedule preventing me from going to my beloved classes and the winter weather keeping me cooped up inside more often than I’d like (I know, not the best reasons, but I’ve given myself some grace here).

I’m happy to say that I’m finally getting back in the groove and my little hiatus reminded me that I NEED physical activity. Not only for my strength and stamina but even more importantly, for my mental health and joy.

I truly feel so much better when I’m regularly moving my body and getting a good sweat on. Motivation, inspiration, creativity, self-confidence, and general feel-goodness all increase when I workout consistently. Not only does this make me a better person, but a better mama and a better wife. So really, I just cannot afford to not exercise!

Pre & Post Workout Nutrition & A Free E-Book Guide Download! via Nutrition in the Kitch

This brings me to today’s post, which is actually a revamp of a post I wrote years ago on pre and post workout nutrition. According to the lovely google analytics, this post of mine still gets tons of referral traffic and I figured it was time for a fresh update! As I get myself back into the routine of regular exercise I’m also thinking a lot more about the nutrition I get around my workouts.

While exercise alone does make me feel amazing, combining exercise with the right nutrition leads to better results both physically and mentally. Fuelling our bodies pre-workout makes sure we aren’t running on an empty tank, and replenishing post-workout ensures our body gets the right nutrients necessary to build and repair muscle, boost recovery, and restore energy.

I’ve created a great little FREE e-book guide that simplifies pre and post workout nutrition for you to download at the end of the post. But first, here’s the breakdown of what you’ll want to focus on consuming before your workouts and after.

Pre & Post Workout Nutrition & A Free E-Book Guide Download! via Nutrition in the Kitch

pre workout nutrition: 

Before you workout, you need to fuel your body, energize it, and invigorate it for the work it is about to do for you!

The KEY macronutrient for pre-workout is Carbohydrates!

Carbohydrates are the body’s most efficient source of usable energy. When consumed these carbohydrates break down into sugars that can be used immediately for energy or stored as glycogen for energy during exercise later on. Ensuring you consume an adequate amount of carbohydrates pre-workout helps prevent the body from breaking down protein in the body as a source of energy.

Next up to carbohydrates, another important pre-workout macronutrient is protein. Small amount of faster digesting protein sources (lower fat greek yogurt or cottage cheese, eggs, or protein powder) help to fuel your muscles for exercise.

Because different types of exercise require different types of pre-workout fuel, I like to break down the nutrition options into two simple categories: “need-it-quick” and “have-some-time”.

“Need It Quick”: You have a short amount of time to exercise or you are performing a fast high-intensity workout of shorter duration. 

In these scenarios you need to eat something within the 30-minutes before you start your workout. You may have just finished an appointment at work and only have a short time period to get your workout in, or it might be first thing in the morning and you want to eat something but want to avoid cramps or a full stomach. You might also have a quick, high intensity workout planned and need fast energy.

The best options here are quick-digesting, simple carbohydrates such as fruit or other healthy, unrefined, simple sugars like dates. If the “need it quick” scenario applies to you try the options below:

“Have Some Time”: You have the chance to eat more than 1-hour prior to your workout or you plan to do a longer duration lower intensity workout such as a run, other cardio, or heavier strength training.

The key is still to consume carbohydrates but to focus on slower-digesting carbohydrates that provide longer-lasting energy. Complex carbohydrates including rice, beans, quinoa, sweet potato, or oats are all great options. The protein you consume in this scenario will be about 25% of the meal and will serve to prevent the breakdown of muscle for fuel during your workout. Here are some great options to try:

  • Oatmeal + Berries + Hemp Seeds + Pure Maple Syrup
  • Grain Bread + Hummus + Hard Boiled Egg + Sliced Cucumber
  • Quinoa + Chicken Breast + Spinach + Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Brown Rice Pasta + Cooked Shrimp + Tomato Basil Sauce
  • Egg White + Veggie Scramble + Grain Toast

Pre & Post Workout Nutrition & A Free E-Book Guide Download! via Nutrition in the Kitch
post workout nutrition: 

After you have worked up a sweat it’s time to replenish and repair.

It is crucial to eat within one hour after your workout (within 30 minutes is ideal). The longer you take to replenish after exercise, the longer it takes your body to recover.

The ideal macronutrient combination post-workout is actually the same, carbohydrates and protein, with a little more emphasis on protein. Research has shown that consuming protein and carbohydrates within 15-minutes post-exercise can nearly double the insulin response in the body, which results in more stored glycogen.

Small meals or snacks that combine protein (for muscle repair and recovery) and carbohydrates (for replenishing glycogen) truly help you get the most out of your workout. Try these:

  • Protein Powder shaken with Water or Almond Milk + Apple on the side
  • Protein Powder + Fruit Smoothie
  • Banana + Almonds
  • Tuna Snack + Seed Crackers
  • Brown Rice Tortilla + Chicken Breast + Spinach + Salsa
  • Salad Greens + Chicken Breast or Shrimp + Quinoa + Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Scrambled Eggs + Grain Toast

Pre & Post Workout Nutrition & A Free E-Book Guide Download! via Nutrition in the Kitch

I hope you have enjoyed this little educational post and feel inspired and motivated to prioritize your nutrition around your workouts. The food you eat pre and post workout really should work for you not against you!

Be sure to grab my FREE downloadable e-book guide on pre and post workout nutrition below! 


Have a wonderful Sunday,

Author: Christal Sczebel

Christal is the creator of Nutrition in the Kitch. She's a Certified Nutritional Consultant, twice published author, gluten and dairy free recipe developer, food photographer, speaker, wife, and mama. Christal loves good food, all things wellness, and loves to travel. Her wellness philosophy is centred around balance and sustainable health, life's way too short for boring diets and restriction!

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  • Hi I work out twice a day, intense cardio in the morning and weights in the evening, I want to know what to eat before and after both of workouts.
    I’m a vegetarian it would be of soo much help if you suggested something.

  • Hello! 🙂 for a pre and a post workout can I eat banana s for Pilates, cardiio as well as yoga? And what other raw fruits can I eat before and after? And what veggies? I am wanting to lose a lot of body fat and 25 pounds of weight so my husband and I can try and have another baby soon

  • Hi Christal,

    I was wondering that post yoga fuel is also important? I usually do yoga (always power one) in the morning between 5-6am in a fasted state and after the session I feel hungry, although I’m just having breakfast around 8am when I get in the office, by bike. Can I have some nibble, like dried fruits and nuts in the morning after the session?

    Many thanks for your help,

    P.S. Loving your blog since ages xx

    • Hi Agnes! Yes, because a power flow yoga is definitely a little form of resistance training it would be smart to have some post yoga protein and carbohydrates! Some nuts and dried fruits would do the trick wonderfully! 🙂

  • Totally agree! I always have my oatmeal and berries about a hour to hour and a half before my workout, and then my whey protein and berry smoothie right after. My fitness instructor, always tells us to fuel our body before a workout, and compares it to fueling a car before taking a trip!

  • Mmm this all looks delicious! It’s so handy that you have that many links for previous recipes to attach to this as well 😀 I especially like the looks of those PB and J bars!
    I hope you have a great work out session to kick start your week 😀

    x J

    • Doing cardio on an empty stomach first thing in the morning can be OK, as the body will use fat for fuel right away, so for fat loss this is good, BUT that being said, sometimes you just won’t have the energy you need to push as hard as you would if you ate, and for HIIT that might be the case. I would go with some water, and just a fruit like a banana or apple to get you going! That shouldn’t make you feel full at all or give you pain/cramping!