"Focus on a good sources of carbs for energy," says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, author of . If you'll be doing intense cardio, avoid very high-fiber snacks before a workout or foods rich in protein or fat as these slow digestion and can lead to cramping or indigestion when working out.
Give yourself time to digest: Finish eating your snack 30 minutes before a workout, 60 minutes if you're suffering from nausea or morning sickness.
Going to a yoga class? Palinski-Wade says she'd recommend avoiding carbonated beverages, high acid foods (citrus fruits, tomatoes), and anything high in fat/protein right before your class to prevent heartburn, indigestion, and nausea while exercising in various poses.
Keep your pre-exercise snack to about 200 calories and include 15 grams of carbs for every 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. That's equal to one medium piece of fruit, 4 oz of juice, 8 oz of milk, one slice of bread, or 6 oz of a sports drink. Palinski-Wade says fruit is a great warm-weather snack option because it's rich in carbs and water.
We know you're already thinking watermelon when it comes to hydrating foods, but don't forget about these high-water content fruits: cantaloupe, strawberries, raspberries, apples, pineapple, blueberries, and peaches.
Pre-workout snack suggestions:
- Make a smoothie with 1/2 cup fruit, 1/2 cup low-fat or Greek yogurt, and 1/2 cup ice.
- Have 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt topped with ¾ cup berries or other fruit.
- Pair 6 whole grain crackers topped with 1 ounce cheese and served with ½ cup berries.
- Spread 1 medium apple with 1 Tbsp natural almond butter.
"Don't drink sodas or juice during a workout—they have higher concentrations of sugar per ounce which may lead to cramping," says Palinski-Wade. She recommends an electrolyte-rich beverage like coconut water (without added sugars or artificial ingredients) because it contains five essential electrolytes and re-hydrates in a way water can't before and after a workout.
Refuel with a balanced meal or snack in the 200- to 250-calorie range within 30 minutes of exercise. It should include at least one to two servings of carbohydrates (like whole grains and fruits/veggies), protein, and at least one serving of fat.
"The fruits and whole grains will help replenish glycogen (carbohydrate) stores that were used during the workout, and the lean protein will help repair the microscopic muscle tears that occur during exercise," says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson. "Research has shown that only a small amount of protein is needed to do this, around 10 grams, she says.
Remember that lots of veggies are rich in water content so feel free to round out your other favorite post-workout snacks with raw celery, carrots, cucumbers, spinach, peppers, radishes and zucchinis for low-cal options that'll fill you up!
Post-workout snack and meal suggestions:
- Make a wrap with 2 oz grilled chicken breast, 100% whole grain wrap, lettuce, tomato, 1 Tbsp salad dressing, and 1/4 cup shredded cheese.
- Dig into a yogurt parfait made with 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup granola, 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts, and 1/2 cup berries.
- Whip up a two-egg omelet filled with spinach and mushrooms served with 2 slices of 100% whole grain toast topped with 2 tsp whipped butter.
- Have 1 cup of raw chopped veggies (like celery, carrots, cucumbers), 2 Tbsp hummus, about 100-calories worth of whole-grain crackers
- For an on-the-go option, pair one string cheese with a piece (or cup) of fruit. If you're really hungry add 1 oz whole-grain pretzels.
Video: 3 Quick & Easy Post Workout Snack Ideas!
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