workout nutrition

What to Eat to Get the Most Out of Your Workouts

As a busy mom, it takes effort to find time and motivation to workout. But, without the right nutrition, you’ll spin your wheels, unlikely seeing the results you want. The good news is that fueling properly isn’t overly complicated!

Pre-exercise nutrition

The goal of your pre-exercise meal is to provide fuel for your workout. You want to optimize glucose availability, which means giving your body easy access to sugar that will be used as instant fuel.

It takes a few hours for your body to process food, so after work/afternoon workouts will be fueled by your lunch or afternoon snack. Early morning workouts will depend on what you ate for dinner/late night snack.

Read This: How to Eat for Energy

For a low intensity, <60 minute workout in the morning, you’ll be OK not eating before hand. But, you know yourself best, and if you can’t do an empty stomach, that’s fine, just don’t stress about waking up way early to cram in some food. If you do plan to go hard first thing in the morning, have a small snack of simple carbs at least 30 minutes beforehand.

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What do I eat?

First and foremost; go with what you know! Many runner’s love bananas for the high sugar content and portability, but if you hate bananas, eat something else! Digestive systems are highly individual, so experiment and note how your workouts feel.

Your main goal is eating a relatively high carb, low to moderate protein mix. This will give your body the sugar it needs to keep moving.
Avoid foods with high fat and fiber content to minimize chances of gastric distress. Fiber takes longer to digest, which is great for feeling fuller, longer, but will divert blood away from working muscles to help digest, plus you’ll be moving with a full stomach. Not fun.

Read This: How to Create an Effective Workout Plan

Post-exercise nutrition

The goal of post-exercise food is to replenish the lost glycogen stores (carbs), and promote muscle repair. During exercise, you create tears in the muscle fibers. As you rest, these tears are repaired, primarily with protein, and become stronger, which is why rest is so important!

Your main focus is refueling within an hour of your workout. Your body is primed to put fuel to optimum use, so take advantage! It should be noted, the more intense your workout, the more important this timeframe is.

What do I eat?

Again, a higher carb content is key to replenishing all the glucose you burned during your workout. But, protein during this time is more important than in your pre-exercise food. Avoiding fat and fiber isn’t as crucial, however if you’re eating immediately after a workout, you may want something easier to digest quickly. Healthy fats, as always, should be favored over saturated.

Read This: Healthy Fats, Healthy Weight

Here are some easy breakfast and snack ideas that contain the nutrient mix you want for optimal fueling.

In general, a diet full of whole foods with a mix of carbs, protein and healthy fats will support your workouts and recovery. By focusing on what fuels your exercise and what repairs your muscles, your body will be prepared for your workouts and will recover quicker.

Plus, by routinely eating healthfully before and after your workouts, you create a healthy eating habit that will influence your choices the rest of the day!

I help new moms and moms-to-be get their healthy eating habits back on track, and figuring out what to eat around your workouts is a big piece of that! Email me at and let’s set up a quick Discovery Call to see if health coaching is right for you.

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