Importance of Pre & Post Workout Meal

By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.

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Athletic and exercise performance is not only influenced by the training schedule of the athlete but is also dramatically influenced by the nutritional status of the individual. Total dietary intake not only influences training and performance, but also the strength and endurance of the individual. Additionally, the composition of dietary intake can significantly impact the metabolic responses to exercise, which, in turn, can impact performance.

It is therefore important to pay close attention to the dietary and nutrient intakes of these active individuals to enhance performance and exercise capacity.

Pre-workout Nutrition Recommendations:

  • If you exercise early in the morning, there is usually little time to digest a meal before exercise. However, depending on the type of exercise and its duration and intensity, a light meal with easy-to-digest carbohydrate might help performance.
  • Glycogen can be depleted after an overnight fast, so eating a carbohydrate-rich snack before exercise can help ‘‘top off’’ liver glycogen.
  • Ideally, a mixed meal should be eaten 3 to 4 hours before exercise to allow enough time for digestion and absorption of nutrients. But, for those who exercise in the morning, this may not be possible.
  • If an individual finds there is no time to eat before a morning event, eating just 30 g of carbohydrate 5 to 10 minutes before exercise may improve performance.
  • Carbohydrate should be easy to digest such as liquid sources of carbohydrate found in sports drinks or foods such as a serving of a small banana, or yogurt.
  • Foods and fluids consumed before exercise should be easy to digest and relatively low in fibre.
  • To get the most out of a workout, choose foods or fluids that provide carbohydrate while minimizing fat and fibre.

What to Eat and What to Avoid in Pre-workout:

Do TryAvoid
Easy-to-digest foods such as low-fibre carbohydrates and low-fat protein foods, such as grilled chicken sandwich, egg sandwich, hard-boiled eggs with lightly buttered toast, low-fibre cereal and low-fat milkHigh-fat, protein-rich foods such as hamburgers, cheeseburgers, ribs, sausage
Foods with a lower glycaemic index such as milk, yogurt, peeled apple slices, banana, oatmeal, pastaHigh-fibre and gas-forming foods such as cauliflower, onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and garlic; high-fibre breakfast cereals and energy bars
Foods that are well tolerated by the individual athleteUnfamiliar foods

Fluid intake before exercise:

  • The goal is to drink enough fluids to minimize dehydration while not over drinking.
  • Starting a workout or training session well hydrated is important not only for exercise performance but also for health by preventing an unsafe rise in body temperature.
  • Recommendations for fluid intake before exercise vary slightly, but in general, it is suggested that 2 to 3 hours before exercise an individual should drink 17 to 20 oz. of water or sports drink and 7 to 10 oz. 10 to 20 minutes before exercise.

Eating During Exercise:

  • Consuming foods during exercise is recommended for those athletes who engage in exercise of long duration (marathon, triathlon, road cycling, or ultra-endurance events) lasting more than 1 to 22 hours.
  • However, that advice is most important when an athlete has not eaten before exercise and is starting exercise in a depleted state.
  • For most recreational workouts, eating during a workout that lasts less than an hour is not necessary.

Fluid Intake during Exercise:

  • During exercise, staying hydrated is a key strategy for improving performance and reducing the perceived effort of exercise.
  • Athletes should not lose more than 2% of body weight during exercise. The weight loss represents water loss, not fat loss.
  • Recommendations for fluid intake during exercise are highly individualized and are based on environmental conditions, sweat rates, and the intensity and duration of the activity.

Post-workout Nutrition Recommendations:

  • Recovery nutrition focuses on carbohydrate intake to restore muscle glycogen. Carbohydrate consumption also stimulates the hormone insulin, and both are needed to transport glucose into muscle to replace glycogen used in exercise.
  • In the 20-60 minutes after your workout, your muscles can store carbohydrates and protein as energy and help in recovery.
  • Recovery nutrition focuses on providing high-quality protein (ie, one that provides all of the essential amino acids) along with some carbohydrate for insulin stimulation to aid in muscle repair and provide nutrients for muscle protein synthesis.
  • Athletes are encouraged to consume about 10 to 20 g of protein within 2 to 3 hours after a weight-training session.
  • Milk protein may have the advantage by containing 2 proteins: whey (20% of milk protein) and casein (about 80% of milk protein).
  • Whey is a fast-acting protein, meaning it appears rapidly in the blood, and casein is a slow-acting protein, so together the proteins can stimulate protein synthesis while buffering protein breakdown.
  • Soy protein contains only 1 protein source, so the effect on muscle may not be as great.

Fluid intake post-exercise:

  • Athletes should drink at least 16 to 20 oz. of fluids for every pound lost during exercise to rapidly and completely replace fluid losses.
  • Sports drinks are often recommended because the sodium in the beverage encourages fluid consumption and helps the body hold on the fluid by decreasing urine output.

What to Eat and What to Avoid in Pre-workout:

Do TryAvoid
Brown rice and boneless skinless chicken breast, Chocolate milk, Fruit, Lean proteins, Whole grain wrap, Yogurt, Egg scramble, Peanut butter with Banana.Sugary shakes, Processed energy bars, Low carb meals, Salty processed foods, Fried foods, Caffeine, Eating nothing.


Eating the right foods to fuel your body after exercise will be the most important part of achieving your goals. Do not to skip meals and remember to drink plenty of water.



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