Food as Fuel A guide on what to eat pre- and post-workout

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As the semester drags on, the decision to commit to healthier habits seems less appealing. The weather becomes definitively colder so it’s safe to bring out the unshapely, heavy sweaters and fuzzy socks. And motivation to go on a run after class may have disappeared along with the last day above 60 degrees. Luckily, we can retreat from the pressure of an ending semester and spend a few days feasting with family and friends for the holidays. Counting calories becomes less concerning with every batch of baked goods coming out of the oven. However, putting on your running shoes and getting back into the workout routine doesn’t mean your appetite must diminish. ing Magazine is here to help you indulge your cravings between workouts with some food options that can fuel your performance.


Preparing your body before exercising with the right nutrition can change your entire performance throughout. Isabelle Simpson, a junior dietetics major, recommends eating food with low-fiber, low-sodium and low-fat. 

“Carbohydrates are very important to eat pre-workout because they provide the body with glucose. Carbs are broken down into glucose and this glucose is basically used to fuel muscle cells,” said Simpson. “Lucky for you, this means pasta gets to stay on the menu, just as long as you switch it up to whole grain!”

What to eat: Bananas, granola bars, dried fruit, chicken, tofu and whole grains.

When to eat it: Approximately 45 minutes to three hours before your workout to avoid cramping.


Post-workout, your mantra should be “replenish and recover.” As you finish stretching, make sure to drink lots of water to make up for all the sweating. Your muscles are tired and need the proper nutrients to rebuild stronger.

“Protein is important post-workout because it helps muscles rebuild and recover, which is important, especially after a high-intensity workout,” Simpson said. 

It’s also a clever idea to work in some carbs and help replenish what was burned during your workout.

What to eat: Nuts, Greek yogurt with fruit, a turkey sandwich or pita with hummus.  

When to eat it: About 20 minutes after exercising to avoid cramping.

What to Avoid

As filling and delicious as it is, pizza is never a good option for a pre- or post-workout meal. If you can, stay away from foods high in fat and fiber, like trail mix and beans, that can cause cramping and discomfort during your workout.