December 2023

Maximizing Energy: Best Foods For Your Workouts

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Maximizing Energy: Best Foods For Your Workouts

Maximizing Energy: Best Foods For Your Workouts

Looking to get the most out of your daily sweat sesh? Choose nutrient-dense foods and drink plenty of water to rock your next workout! What you eat (and drink) has the potential to maximize energy during workouts, improve your performance, speed muscle recovery, and have you back at your favorite dance cardio class — STAT! In fact, you’ll be counting the minutes until your next workout!

In this blog, our FitPros share some of the best workout foods to fuel your body — before, during, and after your workouts! Not only will you love these healthy foods for workouts, but you’ll also learn when to eat them for maximum results.

So, are you ready? Let’s dive in!  

Why Nutrition Matters for Your Workouts

Good nutrition is always important, whether you’re working out or not. If you don’t get proper nutrition, you’ll be at increased risk for everything from fatigue, headache, and dizziness to a range of chronic (and even life-threatening!) health conditions.

Nutrition becomes even more critical when you work out. When exercising regularly, you may need to eat more, time your meals and snacks around workouts, and strive for the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Fortunately, there are no strict rules on the best foods to eat while working out. However, plenty of options can maximize your energy, increase performance, and speed up your recovery!

When you choose to eat also makes a big difference! Should you eat before or after a workout? The answer is both! Many fitness experts recommend eating a full meal with carbohydrates, protein, and fat around 2-3 hours before working out. But if you only have an hour or less, focus on easy-to-digest carbs with a small amount of protein.

If you exercise vigorously, in hot weather, or for longer than an hour, you may need to replenish energy stores during your workout. As for what to eat during a workout, keep things simple with portable carbohydrates. For example, energy bars and gels, bananas, grapes, and dried fruit are some of the best foods during a workout.

Top Carbohydrate Choices for Fueling Workouts

Wondering what to eat before a workout? Although carbohydrates have come under fire in recent years for their role in the obesity epidemic, they are also the best workout foods to fuel your body. The trick is to avoid highly processed sources, which often contain excessive calories and added sugar. Instead, reach for whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. You’ll be good to go!

Examples of healthy carbohydrate sources include:

  • • Whole grain cereal, bread, and pasta
  • • Oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and ancient grains
  • • Bananas, oranges, and berries
  • • Sweet potato, broccoli, and carrots
  • • Low-fat or non-fat yogurt and milk

Pre-Workout Snacks: Fueling Up for Success

To maximize your training results, eat a meal containing carbs, protein, and fat 2–3 hours before exercising. If you only have 45–60 minutes, the best workout foods are easy-to-digest healthy carbs and a small amount of lean protein. Avoid foods that slow digestion, such as saturated fats or large amounts of protein. These will divert energy from your workout to your gut! 

Here are some of our favorite snacks and healthy foods for workouts: 

  • • Whole grain cereal with low-fat or skim milk
  • • Greek yogurt with banana
  • • Oatmeal with berries and chopped nuts
  • • Fruit, vegetable, and yogurt smoothies
  • • Energy and granola bars bars
  • • Whole grain toast with avocado or hard-boiled egg
  • • Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
  • • Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • • Sweet potato with almond butter and blueberries — trust us!

FitPro tip: Don’t work out on an empty stomach — or an overly full one! Skipping your pre-workout snack or meal may cause you to feel weak, sluggish, or light-headed. If you only have a few minutes to eat before exercising, go with a piece of fruit. 

Hydration: The Key to Optimal Performance

Along with eating the best workout foods, maintaining proper hydration is key to maximizing your workout! That said, everyone’s exact hydration needs vary. Your age, sex, weight, overall health, activity level, and even the weather (!) can affect how much fluid you drink. 

An easy guideline is the 8x8 rule: drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. You may require more during hot weather, intensive activity, or less if you’re sedentary. If drinking this much water is a struggle, don’t give up — we can help get you there!

Here are some ways to stay hydrated throughout the day:

  • • Fill up a water bottle (or two!) each morning and keep it by your side.
  • • Drink water with every meal and snack.
  • • Choose fruits and veggies with a high water content (i.e., berries, watermelon, cucumber, and celery).
  • • Use an app to track your fluid intake. 

Not a fan of plain water? No problem! Substitute herbal tea, fruit-infused water, flavored sparkling water, diluted juice, or low-fat milk. Limit drinks with added sugar. When exercising vigorously or for longer than one hour, you may require a sports drink (or some coconut water, also known as nature’s sports drink!) These will help you rehydrate and replenish lost electrolytes.

Always listen to your body for signs of dehydration, especially while exercising! These include lightheadedness and dizziness, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, dry mouth, headache, fatigue, lack of sweating or urination, and a fast heartbeat. (Yikes!) If you experience any of these symptoms, stop working out, ask for help, and drink up.

Post-Workout Nutrition: Replenishing and Repairing

What to eat after a workout? We’re so glad you asked! To replenish your energy stores, support muscle recovery, and maximize your fitness gains, eat a combination of healthy protein, carbs, and fats within two hours of finishing a workout.

Some of our favorite post-workout snacks include: 

  • • Apples and nut butter
  • • Hummus and veggies
  • • Chia seed pudding with fruit
  • • A peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread
  • • Post-workout smoothies
  • • String cheese and whole wheat crackers
  • • A bean burrito
  • • Our fall-inspired smoothie bowl! (‘Tis the season!)

FitPro tip: Don’t forget to drink plenty of water after your workout. 

Snack Ideas for Sustained Energy Throughout the Day

By now, you’re probably getting the concept of the best foods to eat while working out. Many of our favorite pre- and post-workout foods are superfoods! Superfoods are natural, whole foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and (often) fiber. Many are plant-based, though eggs and fish also get the green light! You’ll feel great eating these nutrient-dense superfoods before, during, or after a workout — and even on rest days! 

(Super)foods to eat right now

  • • Berries and cherries
  • • Green leafy veggies
  • • Avocados
  • • Nuts
  • • Quinoa
  • • Eggs
  • • Sweet potatoes
  • • Fish
  • • Olive oil
  • • Whole grains
  • • Beans and legumes
  • • Tomatoes

We'll leave you with this food for thought - without the adequate nutrition, your sweat sessions can actually become less effective... it's true! So, think of food as fuel and it is up to you to nourish your body with the good stuff for optimal performance during your workout and your everyday life.

Ready for a step-by-step guide plus simple meal plans and recipes? Head to your nearest studio and ask about our nutrition program or check us out online!


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