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The best workout foods

Sarah Kelsey is a lifestyle writer, editor and spokesperson based in Toronto. She was the editor of AOL/The Huffington Post Canada’s StyleList, Style and Living sites. Today, she's a freelancer writing for some of North America’s top pub...

Fitness foods for energy

When you're nibbly, it's hard to focus on the idea of working out. But studies show if you eat a little something before you hit the track or Spin class, your workout will be better for it. You'll have more energy and you'll boost your calorie-burning power. It's also a good idea to dig into a healthy snack when your workout is complete. A post-workout snack will hasten recovery and prepare your muscles for your next sweat. So what are the snacks you should be digging into before and after you've exercised? Keep reading to find out.

Fitness foods for energyFitness foods to eat before you workout

The important thing to remember about eating before you workout is to watch how much you eat. Eating too much may cause nausea. But eating too little can cause hunger pains mid-exercise. It's also important to eat foods that will supply your muscles with enough fuel to get you through your workout.

Here are some pre-workout snacks to consider:

  • Pretzels dipped in mustard
  • Half a banana with some peanut butter
  • Crackers with a few pieces of cheese
  • An apple with some cheese or almond butter
  • A small handful of nuts
  • Slices of turkey in a small wrap
  • Cottage cheese with a few pieces of fruit
  • Cereal with milk
  • Yogurt and oatmeal
  • A fruit smoothie

Fitness foods to eat after you workout

Eating a post-workout snack will benefit you in many ways. Your body will need fuel to repair its exhausted and over-worked muscles. And, because you stop burning calories as quickly après-workout, eating will help keep your metabolic fires stoked.

Try the following post-exercise foods to give your body a recovery boost:

  • Pasta with tomato sauce
  • Yogurt and fresh fruit
  • Vegetables and/or pita with hummus
  • Nutrition bars
  • Sports drinks
  • A turkey burger

Just remember, while it's important to refuel your body after burning hundreds of calories, it's not a license to overeat or make poor diet choices. Don't use exercise as an excuse to dig into fattier foods, like pizza or fries.

More sports nutrition tips

Now that you know what to eat, keep the following sports nutrition tips in mind.

1. Avoid sugary drinks. Not only are they hard to digest, they won't give your body the enduring energy it needs to get through a long or tough workout. For hydration, drink water or opt for a less sweet sports beverage like Gatorade. Drinks formulated for exercise will also most likely help you replenish electrolytes lost through sweat.

2. Don't eat right before you workout. Eat your pre-workout snack an hour or so before you begin an activity. If you must have a larger meal, aim to eat it two to three hours before you start.

3. Liquid is greater than solid. If you experience nausea after eating and working out, go for liquid-based foods like applesauce or yogurt. They're easier to digest.

4. Stick with what you know. Never try a new food or drink before a race or workout. Consume familiar foods and save adventurous eating for later.

5. Avoid coffee or tea. These caffeinated drinks may give you a momentary boost of energy, but they're also diuretics, and you may end up thirstier and even hungrier in the end.

More on fitness foods

Sports snacks to boost your energy
What to eat after exercise
How to eat and exercise to lose weight

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