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How to feed your body what it needs, pre- and post-workout

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

What to eat before and after exercise to make your workout worth it

If you're looking for a woman with serious diet and fitness credentials, look no further than Kaseedee Jermain.

Jermain lost over 100 pounds during her weight-loss journey, and has gone on to earn industry respect as a top personal trainer and health coach. She is adamant that the only way to achieve long-term fitness success is with smart food choices. "Think of it this way," she explains. "You can't put water in a gas tank and expect it to go, so why would you expect your body to work properly if you don't use the right fuel?"

Your pre-workout nutrition needs

According to Jermain, smart pre-workout food choices can boost energy, prevent injury and improve weight loss outcomes over time. "Before a workout, women need to eat easy-to-digest, slow-release carbs with a touch of protein and fat," she says. This combination of foods prevents digestion issues and provides sustainable energy for exercise.

Slap it together. Think fruit and nuts. One of the best options is to toast a piece of bread and top it with peanut butter, banana and a drizzle of honey.

Cook it. Whip together nutritious oats, walnuts, fruit and soy milk for an overnight oat bar recipe that will be ready for consumption first thing in the morning.

Buy it. In a rush? You can pack in the nutrition of a homemade oat bar by picking up Perfectly Simple's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip bars. These tasty snacks are deceptively nutritious — each bar has 10 grams of protein.

Sip it. Smoothies aren't always the best choice, but a homemade Funky Monkey smoothie is chock full of protein and carbs from healthy fruits and nuts. Don't forget to drink lots of water, too.

Post-workout recovery needs

After you hit the trail or the gym, your body is badly in need of protein and hydration to properly recover. "Proteins repair the muscles you just worked," says Jermain. "The trick is in finding a protein that is easily digestible after a tough workout."

Slap it together. Slice a banana down the middle, then coat it with peanut butter and shredded coconut for a tasty and protein-packed treat.

Cook it. Between the avocados and hard-boiled eggs, this updated avocado egg salad recipe delivers a punch of flavor and light protein for quick recovery. It uses only a touch of mayo, so you can rest assured it's not too heavy.

Buy it. Try a shelf-stable boxed protein meal, like GoPicnic's Beef Cheese & Pita Chips variety pack, to load up on healthy and tasty protein when you're on the run.

Sip it. Surprisingly, chocolate milk is the recovery drink of many elite athletes. It's full of protein and nutrients, and further helps with hydration and carb replenishment.

Finally, remember that each body is different, and you might not respond well to a meal that works for your exercise partner. "Not all of us need the same foods, so try a few different options to see what works for you," concludes Jermain.

This post was sponsored by Perfectly Simple.

More workout tips

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The easiest way to start your own running club
5-Minute workouts even the busiest women can do

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