How to Fuel Your Body Before and After a Workout With Food, Not Supplements

STACK Expert Alena Luciani compares pre- and post-activity fueling to a family road trip.

My brother used to refer to himself as a well-oiled machine. I never really understood what he was talking about until I started to learn about the importance of good nutrition. Food is fuel, and as athletes we need to learn how to fuel ourselves properly for performance.

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Think of your body like a car. A car needs gas to run, but the quality of the gas is important. If you use poor quality gas, your car will not run as efficiently as it has potential to do. If you fuel it with good quality gas, it will perform the way it should. The same goes for your body. If you feed yourself with poor quality foods (high-fat, high-sugar and processed), your performance will suffer. If you fuel yourself with high-quality foods (vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains, etc.) then your body will be able to perform optimally.

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t Think about how you prepare for a family "road trip." Before the trip, you need to put gas in the tank. You start out on your trip, tearing it up and having a good time. When you run low, you stop to refuel for the next leg of the trip. Think of the road trip as your training session, or game. Before a training session, you need to put fuel in your tank, and after you've worked hard and burned through that fuel, you need to refuel your body. You need to use food as fuel for your energy tank.

When fueling before a training session, you want to focus on getting an adequate amount of carbohydrates and a small amount of protein. The carbohydrates are your energy source, and the protein helps minimize muscle breakdown. After a training session, the emphasis shifts to a high-quality source of protein to help rebuild and repair muscle, and a good source of carbohydrates to refuel your energy stores.

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Check out this list of pre- and post-training snacks to fuel your body right!

Pre-Training

  • Oatmeal + Berries + 1 Scoop of Nut Butter
  • Hard Boiled Egg + Whole Grain Bread
  • Sweet Potato + Chicken

Post-Training

  • Chicken Breast + Brown Rice + Vegetables
  • Protein Smoothie (Protein + Almond Milk + Banana + Nut Butter)
  • Greek Yogurt + Berries + Almonds

Note: Portion sizes depend on the individual.

Remember to fuel your body before training and refuel it afterwards to optimize your performance and recovery.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: PROTEIN | POST-WORKOUT NUTRITION | PRE-WORKOUT NUTRITION | WHOLE GRAINS | WHOLE FOODS