The Best Snacks Before and After Exercise
Going off to do a run or exercise without having anything to eat may leave you feeling, quite literally, like you're running on empty, so it's best to snack a little before you go.
Ideally, eat between 30 mins and a couple of hours before working out but, the shorter the time frame, the smaller the snack should probably be. Your pre-workout snack will need to include carbs for energy and a small amount of protein as it will help repair muscles.
Ready, Steady, Fuel... Go!
- Yoghurt mixed with dried fruits, nuts, and seeds can be a great pre-run snack. The yoghurt provides a base that's easily digested. From the dried fruits, you'll get an energy boost almost immediately and nuts and seeds are slower to digest, so they'll sustain you further into the run. They take longer to digest as they're high in fat so avoid overloading the yoghurt with these as they could lead to you feeling sluggish if you have too many.
- If you don't feel like crunching your way through a bowl of yoghurt with nuts, seeds, and fruit, take a shortcut and blend the lot into a power smoothie. It'll have just the same effect; it's just easier to consume.
- Alternatively, a bowl of porridge or oatmeal can be a great pre-exercise breakfast. Porridge provides a slow release of energy by increasing the sugar in your bloodstream steadily, rather than the rush you might get from a sugary drink that is not then sustained. By adding fruit such as blueberries and strawberries to the porridge, you'll be maintaining your hydration levels; important before you begin to exercise.
If you happen to do your exercise at lunchtime during the working week, it's not always that easy to have those handy snacks in tow. But, with so many delivery services bringing all manner of dishes to wherever you are, it’s simple to get that healthy snack delivered to your desk. Companies like Deliveroo also offer healthy breakfast ideas for inspiration - many of these could provide an ideal pre-workout snack.
Recovery Snacks - What to Eat after a Workout?
It's not just before a workout that you need to refuel. Immediately after exercise, it's a good idea to have a snack that will help you replenish energy levels until your next proper meal. You'll need to replace depleted glycogen with carbs. You’ll also need protein for muscle recovery. Eat within 20 minutes of finishing training, then follow with a full meal a few hours later.
- Surprisingly, chocolate milk can be a good choice, as you get all that you need in one drink. It contains carbohydrates and protein - both good for muscle recovery - and has the water content necessary to replace lost fluids during exercise. You'll also top up on sodium, sugar, and calcium, which will help you retain water and lift your energy levels. And, on top of all that, it's a drink that has the comfort factor of childhood memories, so it feels like a treat, rather than just being good for you!
- A tuna sandwich will provide you with the carbs and protein you need following a workout and, if you don't feel like you have that much of an appetite, just make a one slice sandwich.
- If you don't feel like having a sandwich straight after exercise, you can also just eat sandwich fillers. For example, spread soft-cheese onto turkey slices and roll up as you would a wrap. Sliced apple or banana will provide the carbs to increase your energy levels.
Of course, these are just a few suggestions, and every person will have their own preferred pre- and post-workout snacks. But it’s worth experimenting and trying different options to see what gives you that boost to get through a workout and to recover after one.