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#176 What To Eat Before And After Your Workout

By Rachael Attard, Updated Mar 29, 2016

What you eat before and after your workout will depend on your goals and the type of workouts you do.

Before Your Cardio Workout

If your workout is first thing in the morning, I recommend not eating anything (if you can). Your body is already depleted of carbohydrates after a long period of not eating. This means that your body will use more stored fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. This is best for low to moderate intensity cardio such as power walking or light jogging.

If you are doing high intensity cardio such as a long distance run or sprints, it may be better for you to eat something small. This is because without the carbohydrates, you will have less energy so it will be more difficult for you to train hard. If you don’t care about training hard and just want fat loss, don’t eat (it will be tough). But if you are training for an event or really want to push yourself during your workout, eat something high in carbohydrates such as a piece of fruit.

fruit berries

Before Your HIIT / Weights Workout

Before this type of workout, I recommend eating something small. This type of workout will use up stored carbohydrates (glycogen), so if you haven’t eaten anything before hand, this workout will feel very difficult. Again, I recommend something small and high in carbs such as a piece of fruit.

After Your Workouts

After any workout is the absolute BEST time to eat carbs. Your body has used a lot of stored carbohydrates (glycogen) during the workout, and will use the carbs you eat to replenish the glycogen in your muscles, rather than store it as fat. This is the only time of the day that you have this opportunity. You have about 90 minutes post workout to eat these carbs to get the best benefit.

I also recommend eating protein post workout to help your muscles recover. Ideally, carbohydrate to protein ratio should be 3:1. My favourite post workout meal is a protein smoothie with fruit and protein powder (in the morning), or BBQ chicken with roast sweet or white potato and green vegetables (at night).

dinner

Picture of Rachael

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

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7 comments on “#176 What To Eat Before And After Your Workout”

    Krista L. says:

    Thank you so much for your response! I guess my other question is when is the max time to eat and still get the benefits of consuming carbs, etc. after working out? Again, just wanted to clarify since Rachael’s blog says 2hr, 90mins, etc. Thank you<3

      Tijana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely <3

      If I understand your question correctly - if you are eating after the exercises, Rachael recommends you eat carbs within 90 minutes after your workout to get the best benefit. If you are doing cardio, her recommendation is not to eat before it if you can, and if it is HIIT or weights, she suggests a small fruit.

      If you have more specific questions, you can also write at info@rachaelattard.com

      Love,
      Tina

    Krista L. says:

    Hi ladies, I was browsing through the blogs and was confused because in some of the post, Racheal recommends eating within two hours post workout to get benefits and one of the blog stated 30 minutes, and now this website says 90 minutes. I generally like to work out prior to eating dinner so what time limit is actually recommended to eat within? Please help, thank you :)

      Marina - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hey lovely,

      It really depends. Some people get sick if they eat less than 2h prior to their workout and some people get super hungry if they don’t eat after exercising.

      If your current schedule works for you, there’s no need to change it.

      When it comes to eating before and after exercising, the only thing that Rachael really recommends is fasted cardio (doing cardio first thing in the morning before you’ve had our breakfast).

      Let me know if you have any other questions! xx

      Love,
      Marina

    Elle says:

    Thank you. I posted another question on here but it seems to be gone. Can you please reply to that too?

    Elle says:

    Should I do fasted cardio (power walk) then resistance training right after? Or should there be a gap between the activities? If yes, how long should the gap be?

      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      If you’re trying to lose fat, fasted cardio is a great idea! I would recommend having a meal between fasted cardio and resistance training so you can have enough energy to perform well. You can workout again 2-3h after having a meal (or later in the afternoon). :) xx

      Love,
      Diana