Which is Better: Snacking Before or After a Workout?

Should you fuel up before you hit the gym or after?

By: Amanda Mushro


Group of smiling women wearing colorful sports clothing dancing in gym.

Photo by: 10'000 Hours

10'000 Hours

You're sneaking a workout into a busy day, but before you lace up your sneakers or grab a yoga mat you need one more thing—a snack. This often begs the question: Should you fuel up before your workout or wait to snack afterward? Experts weighed the pros and cons of each.

Grabbing a pre-workout snack will help boost your energy and ensure that you can endure the sweat session. Meanwhile, snacking after a workout helps your body quickly recover so that you can do it again tomorrow. Either way, experts agree that the right fueling method depends on individual body type and workout intensity.

According to findings in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, eating protein and carbs before a workout will help you feel strong from start to finish. If you skip eating before working out, you may end up feeling dizzy, lightheaded and unable to get the most out of your workout. So, eat and drink water before hitting the gym.

Nutritionists suggest eating at least two to three hours before your workout. Nosh on healthy choices like whole-grain cereal with milk, a protein smoothie, or almond butter on whole-grain bread. If you miss the time window but still need a quick snack beforehand, researchers suggest choosing simpler carbs and proteins, like fruit, a protein bar or Greek yogurt.

After your workout is the time to refuel and avoid feeling fatigued or battling low blood sugar for the rest of the day. Post-workout is the time to replace used calories and replenish the glycogen that was depleted during your exercise.

According to nutritionists, your post-workout snack should happen within 45 minutes of exercising. Your snack should contain protein (to help speed-up muscle recovery) as well as carbs and fats. If you don’t have time for a full meal, grab a snack like peanut butter, chocolate milk, rice cakes or a smoothie that contains bananas, berries and protein powder.

Just remember that every body is different and all of your workouts will be different. Take the time to listen to your body and refuel with snacks that work best for you. Don’t forget your water bottle and to pat yourself on the back for taking such good care of your body.

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