What foods give you energy for working out? | Exercise.com Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

What foods give you energy for working out?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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  • Proper nutrition is necessary for successful workouts.
  • No matter what time of the day you work out, you will want to consume foods containing both protein and carbohydrates.
  • It is important to pay attention to what you eat post-workout so that your body is able to recover.

Foods that give you energy for working out include a combination of carbohydrates and healthy proteins.

To get the results you are looking for, you need to carefully choose what you eat before and after your workout.

You will need to find the right combination of nutrients and consider the time of day you are exercising.

It can be tempting to eat something with a heavy sugar content before going to the gym, but this is not the best choice if you want to give your muscles what they need to perform well. While you will get a rush of energy from the sugar, its effects will be short-lived. You will hit a peak and then you will find yourself fading rather quickly.

Eating too much before a workout is also not a very good idea.

A heavy meal means that your body is focused on digestion instead of giving you the energy you need to complete your routine. If you have ever noticed that you want to lie down after a big meal, you get the idea.

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What Foods Give You Energy for Working out in the Morning?

If you like to exercise in the morning, resist the urge to go straight to the gym right after you get out of bed.

Instead, eat a meal that includes some carbohydrates as well as some protein. Such as:

  • A peanut butter sandwich made with whole wheat bread
  • A glass of milk or some yogurt and a piece of fruit
  • A smoothie made with fresh fruit, soy milk, and tofu

A hard-boiled egg is also a good source of protein that is low in fat.

Caffeine will give you a boost after you ingest it, but this won’t last long. Once its effects wear off, you may feel jittery. Some people feel drowsy once this period has passed, which makes it tempting for them to ingest more caffeine to stay alert. Consume caffeine without going overboard — if you do partake in a cup of coffee in the morning prior to your workout, skip the pre-workout powder.

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What Foods Give You Energy for Working out After Lunch?

Not everyone has time to exercise in the morning.

If exercising after lunch fits in with your schedule better than first thing in the morning, eat the same combination of protein and carbs that you would if you were working out in the morning.

Take a can of tuna or salmon and add some light mayonnaise or dressing. Add a salad and you have a lunch that will give you the energy to burn when you are exercising.

Grilled chicken or fish also make a nutritious lunch. Add some carrot and pepper sticks, cherry tomato slices and cucumbers to round out the meal.

What Foods Give You Energy for Working out Before Dinner?

When the workout session is going to take place after work or school, take the time to fuel up first. Expecting your body to perform well when you haven’t eaten anything since lunch is not the best choice.

You don’t want to eat a heavy meal before exercising, but you do need to give your body the fuel it needs to perform well and to keep your energy levels up.

Pack an apple and a handful of nuts in your bag so you have them handy. These foods will give you a good combination of carbs, protein, and fiber. If the fruits and nuts don’t appeal to you, grab an energy bar for your pre-workout snack. Be sure to read the label to make sure that the one you choose is not loaded with artificial ingredients.

If you want to eat foods that give you energy for working out, make sure your meal or snack includes some carbohydrates and lean protein. This is not the time to eat big; you can have a larger meal after your workout.

Be sure your post-workout meal is not laden with fat since this ingredient will slow down your digestion and will make it more difficult for your muscles to get the nutrition they need to recover from the demands placed on them during exercise.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How many calories should I eat?

How many calories you should eat depends on a number of factors. To get a rough estimate, check out this article.

What is bulking? What is cutting?

Bulking and cutting are techniques used by bodybuilders to grow muscle and shed fat. Bulking requires eating in a surplus while weight training in order to build muscle. Cutting requires eating in a caloric deficit to shed body fat in order to “expose” the muscle built during the bulking phase.

Do I have to bulk? Do I have to cut?

No. Unless you are a professional bodybuilder, you do not have to bulk or cut to lead a healthy, happy lifestyle.

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