Best Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks for Every Workout
Pair up your specific exercise—running, HIIT, barre, and more—with the perfect foods for better performance—and a better body
You know carbs are essential for energy and protein is vital for muscle growth, but certain foods are better than others for fueling up before and recharging your body after certain workouts. After all, you use different muscles and burn varying levels of calories depending on if you’re lifting iron, pounding pavement, or doing plies. Find your planned exercise for the day and nosh on the recommended snacks to keep your body at its best during class and long after.
Whatever exercise you’re doing, eat your pre-workout snack one to two hours beforehand to keep your stomach from growling and provide your body with pep without weighing you down. Then refuel within 30 to 45 minutes of your cool-down to provide the necessary nutrients to restore your hard-working muscles and rehydrate your body.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Pre-workout snack: Fruit and nut bar
HIIT workouts are perfect for people short on time, and if you’re running from work to the gym, you want something portable and energizing yet wholesome. Bars with nuts and dried fruit at the top of the list. They provide carbohydrates to fuel your muscles and are rich in fiber, protein, and good-for-you fats that will keep your energy up and your stomach satisfied. Choose a bar around 200 calories with at least 4 to 5 grams each of protein and fiber.
Post-workout snack: 1/3 cup cooked quinoa, 1 cup cooked vegetables (2 cups raw), and 3 ounces cooked chicken
Pre-workout snack: Plain low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt topped with granola
If the carbohydrate stored in your muscle is low, your ability to produce power in the weight room will be sub-par. The whey and casein combination in Greek yogurt means you’re getting a mix of fast- and slow-digesting proteins, which provide muscle-building amino acids during your workout so you’re ready for anything. Aim for 20 grams of protein in your yogurt.
Post-workout snack: Tart cherry juice smoothie with fresh ginger and whey protein
Pre-workout snack: Fresh beet and peach or nectarine salad
Although fellow Cross-Fitters will cheer you on as you push through your workout of the day, the sessions are still exhausting. Some beets beforehand will increase nitric oxide production in your body, which dilates blood vessels to accommodate greater blood flow to your hard-working muscles. Peaches or nectarines add additional healthy carbs for more energy—and their sweetness pairs perfectly with earthy beets.
Post-workout snack: Omelet made with 2 whole eggs and 3 egg whites with sautéed onions and red bell peppers, plus a bowl of chopped fruit (including pineapple)
Sprints or Shorter-Distance Running
Pre-workout snack: 1 slice whole-wheat toast with jam
Eat a very light and easy-to-digest carbohydrate snack a few hours before running sprints, downhill, hills, or hurdles so those carbs are ready to be used for activity. Toast with a thin layer of jam is perfect and super easy.
Post-workout snack: 8 ounces nonfat or low-fat chocolate milk