Pre- and post-workout nutrition is a must

By Lindsay Langford MS, RD, CSSD | Posted 6/28/2016

Many people aren’t sure what to eat and drink before and after a workout. Like a car, a body can’t perform on an empty tank, so it’s important that athletes learn to plan pre- and post-workout nutrition.

Always make sure a nutritious pre-workout snack is consumed one hour before the workout.

Carbohydrates are the main fuel source for workouts. The American College of Sports Medicine/American Diabetic Association recommends consuming 0.45 grams of carbohydrates per pound an athlete weighs one hour before working out. For example, a 175-pound athlete should consume about 79 grams of carbs.

Here are some snack ideas to help give you that energy boost before a workout:



Grams of carbs

Sports drink

20 fluid ounces

30 to 50

Generic sport bar

1 bar

20 to 55

Banana and blueberries with string cheese

1 large banana, ½ cup blueberries


Bagel with peanut butter

1 large


Yogurt with ¼ cup granola

1 cup


Low fat cheese and crackers

1 slice, 6 crackers



½ sandwich


Fig bars




Now that you’ve got pre-workout fuel down, don’t forget post-workout nutrition. That’s equally important. After a tough training session, glycogen (muscles’ main fuel source) can run on empty, and muscle breakdown likely occurs as well.

To replenish, rebuild and strengthen these muscles, proper carbohydrate and protein consumption should be consumed no later than one hour after the training session (30 minutes being ideal). This allows muscles to absorb, regenerate and bounce back stronger for the next workout.

For a workout lasting longer than 90 minutes of constant activity, consume 0.675 grams of carbohydrates per pound within 30 minutes and an additional 0.675 grams of carbs per pound two hours later. For example, a 175-pound athlete should consume 118 grams of carbs after 30 minutes and another 118 grams after two hours.)

Here are some snack options to aid in workout recovery:



Grams of carbs

Generic sport bar

1 bar

20 to 25

Yogurt with ¼ cup granola and blueberries

6-ounce yogurt, ¼ cup granola, ½ cup berries


Meal replacement drink

Slimfast, Boost


High protein cereal (Kashi Go Lean) with low fat milk

1 cup cereal, ½ cup milk


½ peanut butter and honey sandwich

½ sandwich


Low fat chocolate milk

1 cup


Graham crackers and peanut  butter

2 sheets of crackers, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter


These snack options should help increase energy levels and recovery time, allowing athletes to perform at their peak. Mix and match any items or make up some of your own, but be sure to fuel up and fuel down before and after every workout. 

Lindsay Langford is a registered dietician and board certified specialists in sports dietetics for St. Vincent Sports Performancein Indianapolis. She has experience in clinical nutrition, endurance coaching and nutrition coaching for athletes and teams in the NFL, NHL, NBA and IRL as well as elite level endurance athletes.