Fuel Your Workout: 10 Great Foods (for Before and After)

What to eat, when to eat it—and how to hydrate best

Dorry—They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I happen to think it’s also the most delicious. When it comes to a morning workout my breakfast rituals go out the window (cue the Goldilocks’ predicament– not too much, not too little).  Dallas North Park educator and certified nutrition counselor, Dorry, shares her thoughts on breakfasts for champions. 

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Pre-workout Fuelling
If you’re going to be squeezing in a workout before the rest of the world rises, it’s important to incorporate enough time in the morning to fuel your body before and after exercise. Pre-workout fuel should focus on slow-burning complex carbohydrates and be consumed roughly 30-60 minutes before exercise.

Eat This:

Bananas: Bananas are easily digestible carbohydrates and are packed with potassium, which aids in muscle function. Not a fan of the 'nanner? Try an apple, peach or one cup of grapes.Bonus: add a tablespoon of natural almond butter to a banana or apple for more staying power.

Raw Almonds + Dried Fruit: Munch on half a cup of nuts and dried fruit. Almonds are full of monounsaturated fats, energy-boosting Omega-3s and Omega-6s, while the natural sugars in the dried fruit provide almost immediate energy. Bonus: add a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips to your trail mix to provide additional energy and antioxidants.

Oatmeal: One cup of cooked oatmeal is full of fibre and the carbohydrates release gradually into your bloodstream to keep your energy levels consistent through your workout. Oats also contain energy-providing B vitamins. Bonus: add cinnamon for blood sugar control and anti-inflammatory properties.

Post-workout Fuelling

You need to refuel your body 30-60 minutes after your morning workout to keep your energy up for the rest of the day. Post-workout fuel should focus on carbohydrates (to replenish energy stores) and protein (to repair muscle tissue).

Eat This:

Hummus and a Whole-wheat Pita* or Raw Veggies: The chickpeas in hummus are a great source of protein and the pita is a perfect carb. Munch on 2-4 tablespoons of hummus with a whole-wheat pita. Bonus: add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) for added flavor and other health benefits. EVOO supports blood vessels by providing antioxidants like vitamin E and beta-carotene.

Two Whole Eggs and a Piece of Whole-wheat Toast*:Eggs are one of the least expensive and most efficiently digested whole proteins available. Bonus: hard-boiled eggs can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated with the shell on for easy grab-and-go snacks.

Lean Protein with a Piece of Fruit: Four ounces (roughly 4-6 slices or a palm-sized portion) of turkey, chicken or tuna, served with an apple and all natural almond/peanut butter make a great protein and carbohydrate combination. Bonus: wrap it up in a whole-wheat tortilla with your favorite condiments for an easy make-ahead/grab-and-go option.

*gluten-free crackers, bread and wraps are readily available these days for those with sensitivities or intolerance to gluten/wheat. Looking for a brand to try? Udi’s Gluten-Free Food is one of my favourites.

Hydration Hints

  • Drink 17-20 ounces of water, two to three hours before the start of exercise
  • Drink 8 ounces of fluid, 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise or during warm-up
  • Drink 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
  • Drink an additional 8 ounces of fluid within 30 minutes after exercising

Since all of our bodies are different, you’ll likely have to experiment and figure out what works best for you. Keep in mind that serving sizes will vary depending on your height, weight and level of activity.