What to Eat Pre and Post

Original Image by Kylie via Flickr
Original Image by Kylie via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

What you eat pre and post work outs can be a make it or break it factor in one’s performance level.  I can’t emphasize enough how individual one’s eating patterns are and the listed suggestions should be taken with a grain of salt.  Everyone’s reaction to certain foods is different and exercise is involved, it may take some experimenting and time to see what routine best works for you.


  • Eat a high carbohydrate diet 3-4 hours before exercise
    • Improves endurance cycling and running capacity
    • Can be more effective if a carbohydrate electrolyte drink is consumed throughout exercise
    • Choose foods that have low glycemic index—don’t significantly raise plasma glucose and insulin concentrations after eating
  • Those that can’t eat 3-4 hours before competition because of gastrointestinal disturbances, may opt for drinking small volumes of sports drink throughout exercise
  • Eating meal within 1 hour before exercise can cause gastrointestinal problems that could decrease exercise performance
  • Avoid high fat protein sources—i.e. fried meat, cheese, hamburgers since they take longer to empty from stomach and can cause nausea
  • Snack suggestions: banana with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter; low fat yogurt with piece of fruit; oatmeal with skim milk and fruit; trail mix with nuts and fruit; granola with low fat milk and fruit; smoothie with low fat yogurt, fresh fruit and wheat germ or flax seed
  •      i.e. bread, cereals, muffins, yogurt, oatmeal, beans, crackers, pasta

Post workout:

  • Can consume 30-60 g of carbohydrate/hour
  • i.e. 2 cups of sports drink—28 g; 2 oz. of raisins (about 2 handfuls)—30 g; 1 medium size banana—30 g; 1 tablespoon of honey—28 g; sports/energy bar—45 g; 1 serving of sports/energy gels or gummies—23-27 g; low fat granola bar—42 g; 3 fig bars—33 g
  • Sip on 2-4 8 oz. cups of sports drink as well as fluids and electrolytes
  •  Eat small, frequent meals with water or sports to drink to avoid stomach upset
  • Choose high carbohydrate foods that contain a variety of carbohydrates (i.e. starch, fructose, glucose and/or maltodextrin)
  • To see how foods and fluids impact stomach, try them at practice, not during competition

If you look online, there’s always going to be gurus giving their solicited advice.  As a reader, doing a thorough read of the information provided is part of your role as a daily athlete.  If you have any questions about what I listed above, don’t hesitate to ask.







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