Foods that FUEL you – Pre and Post Workout Nutrition.

The real secret to getting “harder, better, faster, stronger”? Fueling your hard working body with the right foods. For our newsletter this week, I asked SPECIAL GUEST writers, Jae Berman and Elisabeth Marsh to share their tips on Pre and Post workout Nutrition. Below you’ll find helpful information and ideas on how to keep your body going STRONG no matter how long your training session.

“Did you know that pre- and post-workout nutrition can have a big impact on exercise performance? Think of the pre-workout meal as the fuel you need to power those hard-working muscles, while the post-workout meal is refueling those energy and protein stores.

You take the time to exercise so please make the most out of it. Why not fuel your body for optimal results? It is very important to remember that you need food to see results—whether it be weight loss, weight gain, increased muscle or increased endurance. No matter what, you HAVE to eat before and after a workout to make the most of your exercise routine.

Here are some tips to get you on your way…

Timing is everything! Ideally, you would eat within an hour pre and post workout. If you don’t think you can get home in time or logistically it is a problem, have a bar in your bag or know a market or café close to your home/office/gym so you can buy something quickly.

Carbs are energy! The major goal of both the pre and post workout meal is to provide the energy you need to power your workout without weighing you down. The primary nutrient for your pre-workout meal is carbohydrates. As your body’s preferred energy source, carbohydrates should be included in all pre and post workout meals. Carbohydrates are digested in your body to provide sugars in the form glucose…which is basically our body’s essential fuel source. Focusing on carbohydrates before exercise also helps delay fatigue and allow for prolonged activity. Carbohydrates post workout provides your body the opportunity for proper recovery.

Don’t forget the protein! In addition to carbohydrate, it’s important to include a small to moderate amount of dietary protein to help repair and rebuild muscle tissues. In fact, eating a protein before exercise may help decrease post-exercise muscle soreness. Eating protein post workout is essential for muscle repair. You will notice how much better you feel when you eat protein before a workout. Also, if you fuel yourself right before a workout you will not feel starving afterwards, which will prevent you from overeating at dinner time.

Don’t forget to hydrate! Make sure to drink fluids throughout the day and before, during, and after your workouts. Staying hydrated is key to optimizing performance and delaying early fatigue. Be sure to drink at least 1-2 cups of water within a half hour of your workout. Many people do not notice how dehydrated they are. Experiment with weighing yourself before and after a workout and see how much sweat you lose. One liter of water is equal to 2.2 pounds. For example, if you weigh yourself before a workout and you weigh 130 pounds, you drink one liter during your workout and post workout you weight 128 pounds that means you sweat 2 liters of fluid and only hydrated yourself with 1 liter—you want to end a workout even or likely a little over hydrated to proper recovery.” Jae Berman, San Francisco.

Jae Berman currently works as the Regional Registered Dietitian of The San Francisco Bay Club and as a clinical Dietitian for the UCSF Medical Center. She is a certified ACSM Health Fitness Specialist and has been a personal trainer, yoga teacher and Pilates instructor for eight years. You can read more about Jae, watch tv clips, and read her blog here:

Need a few meal ideas to get you started? Fitness and Nutrition guru, Elisabeth Marsh shares some of her favorite Pre and Post workout eats.

Pre workout snack ideas:

  • 1 Tb Peanut butter/almond butter on whole wheat toast or whole wheat mini bagel
  • 1 Tb PB/Almond butter on banana
  • 5 almonds and skim string cheese or nonfat yogurt (Buy plain low-fat yogurt and flavor it with vanilla, honey, cinnamon, instant decaffeinated coffee, applesauce, fruit cocktail, or berries)
  • oatmeal- use water not milk. if you get packets you can make antiheroes it ask for hot water at a coffee place and mix. Add a few nuts and dried fruit. You can even mix in a scoop of protein powder into your oatmeal
  • Boiled egg whites and wheat pita ( some people hate eggs I love them)
  • I recommend Power bars and kashi bars- protein bar bars for protein and for a filling fiber snack for 150 calories!

Anytime Snack ideas: 200-300 calories; good for in between classes/on the road ( adapted from nancy clark book)

  • Mix your favorite cereal with raisins, dried fruits, cinnamon, or plain
  • Stuff a whole-grain pita with low-fat cottage cheese and sliced fresh fruit
  • Spread hummus on a whole-grain bagel
  • Blend plain low-fat yogurt and orange juice with a frozen banana and strawberries
  • Layer a whole-grain toaster waffle with plain low-fat yogurt and berries
  • Combine ricotta cheese, sliced apples, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and Grape Nuts
  • Spread nut butter on whole-wheat bread and wrap around a banana
  • Melt a piece of cheese over sliced tomato on a whole-grain English muffin
  • Roll a whole-grain tortilla up with scrambled eggs and salsa

Dinner Ideas:

  • You want your dinner to have a source of lean protein: egg white, lean fish (salmon, tuna, tilapia), baked chicken breast, lean ground turkey or veggie/turkey burgers. Lentils, and quinoa are also a great source of protein and carbohydrate.
  • Make sure to include a fibrous healthy grain: sweet potato, brown rice, whole wheat bread or pita, beans- kidney, black, lentil, split pea,etc. leafy greens.
  • Add a little healthy fat- olive oil, nuts, nut butter, olives, salmon for your fish
  • salad with 3-4 oz of your lean protein. Use olive oil and vinegar for dressing
  • spread hummus on wheat bread or bun with turkey or veggie burger
  • steamed green vegetables or baked sweet potato with baked chicken”

Elisabeth Sherrat is a certified Fitness Professional with a B.S. in Nutrition Science and a Masters in Nutrition from the University of California, Davis.

BIG THANK YOU to both Jae and Elisabeth for their helpful nutrition information and tips!

Take action! Make good nutrition choices HAPPEN!

I’d like to challenge you to incorporate these nutrition tips into your weekly workout plan. Make an extra effort to fuel your fitness with food – your body will THANK you!

Yours in Health,


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