Choosing foods wisely is essential for getting the most efficient workout. Consuming improper foods prior to exercising could prevent you from maximizing your workout, while failure to select appropriate foods after a workout could impair your recovery.

Before a workout, it is important to avoid eating too much and to choose carbohydrate-rich foods. The human body converts carbohydrates into energy most readily, which will be beneficial in energy-expending exercise. Here are some suggestions from the American Heart Association of foods to fuel your body for a successful workout:

  • Whole grain toast
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

Contrary to popular belief, proteins are not recommended for consumption before a workout because they take longer to digest; consuming saturated fats prior to exercise is not advised for the same reason. It is also important to keep your body well hydrated by drinking water.

Once a workout is completed, it is vital to replenish your body through hydration and nutrient intake. Because the body uses carbohydrates as its main energy source, it is important to consume carbohydrates after your workout—they are necessary in the metabolic processes of your body. In addition, protein should be consumed. Protein helps to repair and grow muscles. Here are some suggestions of snacks and meals to eat after a workout:

  • Greek Yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit
  • Apples with peanut butter
  • Whole wheat tortilla with nut butter and banana
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Grilled chicken breast with vegetables
  • Broiled fish with vegetables
  • Quinoa

Written by Amanda Venuto, an intern for Your Fuel registered dietitian Nicole Bergoine. Visit Nicole’s website at: http://www.nicolemarierd.com/