Monday, February 13, 2012

Whole Foods to Fuel Your Workout

What you eat and drink before and after exercising can greatly affect your workout and your energy level throughout the day.

pita sandwich
A pita sandwich is a healthy post-workout meal.

What do you give your body before you ask it to perform for you? Using whole foods to fuel your workout can improve body composition and strength, promote recovery and maintain immune function.

Trust that your body can utilize specific nutrients to aid in your workout: Carbohydrate spares protein as a fuel source; protein regenerates damaged muscle tissue; and fat acts as a vital energy source for longer low to moderate intensity exercises.


Create pre-workout fuel that is high in carbohydrates, adequate in protein and moderate in fat and fiber. Three to four hours before your workout, try:

  • Peanut butter and honey on toast
  • Fruit and yogurt smoothie with granola
  • Turkey and Swiss sandwich with fruit and a sports drink
  • Oatmeal with brown sugar and almonds with milk and a banana

Thirty to 60 minutes before your workout:

  • Sports drink, gel or bar
  • Piece of fruit or jam sandwich


Support recovery with a nutrient-rich snack within 15 to 60 minutes after workout:

  • Smoothie made with yogurt and frozen berries
  • Sports drink (carbohydrate, electrolyte, liquid) with a sport bar (carbohydrate, protein)
  • Graham crackers with peanut butter, low-fat chocolate milk and a banana
  • Whole wheat pita sandwich with turkey and veggies, pretzels and low-fat milk

 If you do not have an appetite after working out, then choose liquid foods to meet recovery goals.

To learn more about your individual needs, consider making an appointment with a nutrition team at Bastyr Center for Natural Health by calling (206) 834-4111. For more information about sports and nutrition, check out the Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition group from the American Dietetic Association.

— Angela Waco, dietetic intern, and Debra A. Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

FALL 2015
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