We know that fueling the body before and after a workout is smart. What we didn’t know is what that fuel should look like. So we turned to Meridan Zerner, a registered dietician nutritionist at Cooper Clinic. She recommends choosing a small, carbohydrate-dense 100- to 200-calorie snack about 30 to 60 minutes prior to working out and a carb and protein combo for post-workout nourishment. Find her suggestions ahead.
Drink water. “It will make your spin, Pilates, yoga, high-intensity interval training class, or jog around the neighborhood easier and more effective,” Zerner says. She recommends drinking 16 to 20 ounces an hour before working out and sipping 4 to 6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes during.
Fruit smoothie or high-energy fruits like pineapple, apricots, banana, mango, and watermelon.
Tip: The snack doesn’t need to change for different workouts (example: pilates vs. Crossfit), but consider how much is consumed. “The amount (calories) may change depending on the intensity of your activity and the length of time you spend exercising,” Zerner says.
“First, most of the fuel you use during exercise doesn’t come from the snack you just ate,” Zerner says. “We utilize the carbohydrates (called glycogen) and fat that’s stored in our muscles, liver, and fat cells. That should be enough there to get us through one to two hours of a tough workout. Keep in mind, the higher the intensity of the class, the more we may need to ‘top off the tank.'”
One ounce of pretzels, a mini bagel, one serving of multigrain pita crisps, or a serving of crackers.
Toast with peanut butter and banana slices
A small bowl of cereal, an energy bar, or granola bar
Tip: “If you ate a meal one to two hours before your planned exercise, then you don’t need an additional snack,” Zerner says. “If the meal has more fat and protein, the longer you may need to wait before exercising."
For post-workout snacks, Zerner recommends carbohydrate and protein combinations, like hummus and raw veggies.
Hardboiled eggs (or egg whites) and six to seven wholegrain crackers.
Oatmeal with protein powder, cottage cheese and fruit, or half of a peanut butter or turkey sandwich on wholegrain bread.
Low-fat or fat-free milk (especially chocolate milk), most protein bars or energy bars, or whole grain crackers with nut butter or cheese.
Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit or one ounce of nuts.