What to Eat Before and After A Morning Workout

What to Eat Before and After A Morning Workout

It is important to know that your body is your engine. Hence, it is important that your engine must be up & running while you are working out. It means that you can fuel your body by consuming the right food and fluids and that too in the right amount at the most appropriate time.

Various researches and studies show that an adequate amount of food and fluids must be consumed before, during and even after exercising. This is to maintain the blood glucose concentration while exercising, maximizing the exercise performance and improving one’s recovery time. Most importantly, it is necessary for athletes to be well hydrated just before exercising. Also, they need to drink enough fluids while and during exercise for balancing the fluid losses.

Most of the health experts exercise that one doesn’t need to adhere the right schedule also there aren’t any hard-fast rules too. However, it is important that you follow some schedules or aspects before, after and during workouts.

Before Exercising – It is All About Fueling Up

Keep in mind that not fueling up before working out is just like driving a vehicle without gasoline. Most importantly, you wouldn’t have enough or required energy to maximize your workouts and even limit your abilities to burn the necessary calories.

You need to ideally fuel up before exercising by doing the following –

  • Hydrating your body with the required amount of water
  • Eating good amount of healthy carbohydrates like whole-grain cereals (along with skim or low-fat milk), low-fat or free fat yogurt, whole-wheat toast, brown rice, whole grain pasta, vegetables and fruits.
  • Make sure to avoid all kinds of saturated fats and even the stock of healthy proteins. This is because these types of fruits end up getting digested slowly in your stomach.

They will also take away the oxygen and the energy-providing blood from your muscles.  Now if you have 5-10 minutes before exercising and are still hungry, just eat a piece of fruit like a banana or apple. As per the health experts, the key here is to consume easily digested carbohydrates, making sure that you wouldn’t feel sluggish.

During Workout – While Making the Pit Stop

Now whether you are a professional athlete who is training several hours, or you have a very low moderate routine, it is important that you keep your body very much hydrated. This is done by consuming small and frequent sips of water.

Various health experts state that one should not eat while working out within an hour or less. However, if you are doing high-intensity and longer workout regimes, it is recommended to have 50-100 calories each hour with carbohydrates like raisins, low-fat yogurt, or banana.

After Working Out – Just to Refuel Your Tank

Various health specialist recommends that after working out you need to refuel your body by –

  • Fluids – Drink water which is important. Make sure to blend your water with 100% juices like orange juice that will provide the required carbohydrates and fluids.
  • Carbohydrates – You might end up burning a lot of carbohydrates. These are the major fuel for your muscles when you are exercising. In the 20-45 minutes exercising which you do after workouts, your muscles will store the carbohydrates and proteins as energy, and it will assist in the recovery.
  • Protein – You need to eat things that has a huge amount of proteins. These will help in repairing and growing your muscles.

Keep in mind that you must realize the basic and general guidelines related to what to have while or before and after working out. Each person has a different digestive system and it simply depends on what type of workout you are doing.

So, what works best for you might be different for someone else. It is very much important that you have fair knowledge of what you are putting in your body (here it means nutrition) and this is very much important as what you do with your body (by exercising). Here both are very much important for keeping your engines in performing the best.

What to Have Before Workout & How Long You Need to Wait Before Hitting the Gym

Generally, eating certain combination of carbohydrates and proteins just before workout can help in sustaining energy and build required muscles. Now foods having high amount of fibre or fat like grilled cheese sandwich or broccoli should be avoided, as they might cause cramping or stomach upset.

Now keep in mind that what you must consume just before a 30-minute power walk will look quite different compared to what you consume doing a 20-mile training or running. One thing you need to know is that if you are exercising for less than an hour, the first thing in the morning is that you should not eat anything. Of course, there can be a huge amount of benefit in not consuming anything before the early morning workouts which are not that much intense.

As per health experts, if you are having an early workout that is either light or easy, especially in case of you trying to reduce weight, it is better if you have a glass of water. Most importantly, skip food. Frankly, this encourages your body to burn in a best way to burn the more amount of fat over the 24 hours. However, this is only applicable if they work out before having breakfast which is compared to exercising later in a day.

Sometimes you might end up being ravenous as and when you wake up. In such case, you might need to have some food in your stomach just before doing any kind of activity. If there are signs that show that you are very much hungry especially on empty stomach, it will lead to intolerable hunger pains, light-headiness, headache, irritability, dizziness, and most importantly the inability to concentrate.

So, in such cases, even if you have about 10-20 minutes just before workout, consuming small amount of easily and quickly digestible carbohydrates are good. Like having four ounces of fruit juices, a handful of grapes, a small banana, handful of dry cereal for making sure that you have enough mental and physical energy to continue moving.

Furthermore, various other data even suggest that such kind of small or carb rich snack (which is most often larger than 200-calories snack) will easily enhance the feeling of being relaxed. This is most commonly after workout, even making you like to stick to this routine.

Now if you are exercising for more than an hour, especially in the morning, then you must really have a small amount of easy to digest carbs. This will even help you to get the required energy for sustaining the workout session. Now if you are waking up even at least 20-40 minutes before working out, you really have the required time to digest some good and nutritious snacks that rank about 200 calories.

Here you can just think about a half English muffin with a tablespoon of peanut butter. Along with that you can add some few slices of banana, apple with a tablespoon of almond butter, or just half a cup of plain yogurt with a handful of granola. It is important that you wake up with enough time to have a small breakfast just before starting an intense workout. That is something which is quite ideal. Most importantly, the extra calories present in your system will avoid giving you fatigue.

This will help you to have enough energy to complete the given workout at the any time of the day especially when you are feeling exhausted. Keep in mind that you will be able to push harder in exercising when you have some fuel in your body.

Now if you are exercising later in the day and had some meal within the last three to four hours, then you are fine to perform your workouts without any additional source of the pre-workout fuel. However, if you haven’t eaten recently, then you really need to gorge on 100 to 200 calories of snack within 30 minutes or an hour just before starting the workout. This will help you to be physically and mentally prepared.

Another major question you might want to ask yourself is how much longer you need to wait to exercise just before eating? Now if you had a meal then it is necessary that you wait for about two or four hours before working out. And if you have eaten a snack just wait for fifteen minutes to half an hour.

One important thing you must keep in mind is that if you are going to do the cardio workouts, then the snack must be higher in carbohydrates. Along with that it needs to be moderate in proteins and low-fat (here it is not necessary that you go fat-free). The specific examples of such food items are a whole wheat tortilla that is smeared in peanut butter. Along with that you can have a banana, half turkey sandwich or just some oatmeal filled with nuts and fruit.

Most importantly, if you are going to do all kinds of strength training, then this snack must really be high in protein, moderate in carbohydrates and a low-fat. The specific examples of such food items are a slice of whole wheat toast, eggs, cottage cheese along with fruit, or the Greek yogurt filled with fruits and nuts.

Is It Necessary for Me To Fuel Up While Working Out?

Do you have to fuel your mid workouts using a sport drink or one of these gels or the so-called gummies? The reply that most people might be surprised to hear is “NO”. Various exercising regimes like yoga, circuit training, light jogging, CrossFit, etc. can be easily fueled with post and pre-workout meals or snacks. Here one does not need to do anything while working out and all that is needed is some water.

Individuals who are participating in longer endurance exercise like cycling or running that is for 45 to 60 minutes or more might easily benefit with mid-workouts. This will simply delay the onset of tiredness and even improve one’s performance as per various decades of studies shown.

After doing the first 50-60 minutes, you really need to aim at eating at least 40 to 50 grams of carbohydrates each hour. In addition, most health and exercising expert feel that sports performance drinks, gels and even chew work great. Since they are not made of full carbs it won’t cause any kind of gastrointestinal distress. However, there are some people who prefer simple things like crackers, pretzels and bananas.

Best Things to Consume After A Good Workout

Now most individuals who are doing moderate bout of exercises maybe in an hour or less won’t have to consume specific kind of recovery food. This is common if they are eating a snack or any meal that contains a mixture of protein and carbs, that too within few hours of their workouts. However, there are certain people who really need to pay a good amount of attention to what they consume after exercising.

Health experts feel that recovery nutrition is very much important. This is often after one does strength training and endurance workouts. For example, like a weight-lifting session or 90-minute bike ride). It even includes when athletes train for multiple times in a single day.

How Should A Healthy Post-Workout Snack Be Like?

Now most of the recovery snack needs to be somewhere between 100-350 calorie range. This can be more if you have not eaten anything earlier in the day and on the lower calories end if you have already eaten. Here you need to keep in mind that if you are losing weight and you aren’t athlete, then your post-workout snack must be on the smaller side.

There is a general rule about snack. It must be at least ten grams of protein and double or triple in carbs.


To gain a better shape and physical health, you need to really have the fuel and energy to workout. Without the required amount of energy, you might end up feeling tired rather than active. So, make sure that you have the required fuel to engage in a hardcore physical exercising session.


Saravavan Nadarajan (Vanan)

Vanan, fitness expert and leader at EzFit Singapore, specializes in holistic training—home-based, boot camps, and corporate fitness—with over a decade of industry experience.