You’ve heard it before: abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. Or you can’t out exercise a bad diet. You get the picture – the proper nutrition is critical in having the body you’ve always wanted. In fact, fitness professionals often talk about how getting your dream body is 30% gym and 70% diet – it’s that important.

For most people working out is the easier part, but eating right can be easy too, when you know what to do – a little planning goes a long way. Look, just because nutrition is important – critical – doesn’t mean it has to be hard, and having the body you’ve always wanted is so worth it.

To help make it as easy as possible for you to eat right (and get the best body you can have along the way), we’ve gathered up some of the easiest, tastiest, pre-workout and post-workout snacks – enjoy!

Why You Need Pre-Workout and Post-Workout Meals

In two words: fuel and recovery. Your pre-workout meal fuels your workout and your post-workout meal is crucial to getting all the nutrients your body needs to recover. Fitness lore has held that the post-workout nutrition is the most important; however, new research indicates that your pre-workout nutrition may be just as important – cover both bases and aim to get high-quality pre-workout and post-workout snacks.

There’s also evidence that it’s not just what you eat either, timing is critical – there’s a metabolic window after a heavy workout, which is the best time to get nutrients into your body. During this time, your body will transport the carbs and protein to your muscle instead of storing them as fat, so you want to make sure you get your post-workout snack during that time.

The basic idea is that you want to get some carbs (for fuel) and lean protein (to build muscle) before and after your workout – you generally want low-GI carbs before your workout and moderate to high-GI carbs after your workout (to replenish glycogen stores). In addition, you want to get your pre-workout meal 120 – 15 minutes before; 20 – 30 minutes after the workout for your post-workout meal, the sooner, the better.

Now that you know the ‘why’ (the basics at least) let’s move on to the snacks – mmmmm, yummy!

Pre-Workout Snacks

Something to keep in mind, the closer it is to your workout the less protein you want and the more carbs you want to get – simple, higher glycemic index carbs are better at this point. Eating complex carbs and protein too close to a workout could lead to indigestion, so if you’ve only got 5 minutes before your workout keep it simple. You also want to avoid fatty and high-fiber (insoluble) foods, since both take longer to digest and can leave you feeling sluggish.

What you could do is have a complex carb and protein snack 60 minutes before your workout and then follow it up with a small simple carb snack (e.g. a piece of fruit) just before your workout for an immediate energy boost.

    Pre-Workout Snacks

    Workout is in 15 – 30 minutes

    Eat a small serving of simple carbs; avoid eating a big serving of protein or carbs.

  1. Yogurt

  2. Raisins

  3. Energy gel

  4. Shot of coffee

  5. Dark chocolate

  6. Banana

  7. Workout is in 30 – 60 minutes

    Eat a 150 calorie snack with complex carbs and some protein; low in fat and fibre

  8. Protein shake

  9. Yogurt and almonds

  10. Apple and peanut butter

  11. Chocolate milk and banana

  12. Whole grain bagel and jelly

  13. String cheese and crackers

  14. Whole grain bread and almond butter

  15. Humus and veggies

  16. Cheese and carrots

  17. Cereal, milk and banana

  18. Bagel with cottage cheese

  19. Nuts and dried fruit / trail mix

  20. Ezekial toast and peanut butter

  21. Almonds

  22. Banana and peanut butter

  23. Energy bar

  24. Pita and hummus

  25. Cottage cheese and crackers

  26. Sweet potato

  27. Whole-grain fig bars

  28. Rye crackers, cottage cheese and fruit

  29. English muffin and almond butter

  30. Workout is in 60 – 120 minutes

    Eat a 300 to 400 calorie meal high in complex carbs and moderate amount of protein; low in fat and fibre.

  31. Chocolate milk, peanut butter and whole grain bread

  32. Tuna pasta

  33. Quinoa and grilled chicken

  34. Cinamon oatmeal and peanut butter

  35. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

  36. Hard-boiled eggs

  37. Grilled chicken and lentils

  38. Turkey sandwich

  39. Chicken noodle soup

  40. Post-Workout Snacks

    Most importantly you want to get hydrated to replace water lost through exercise. Your post-workout meal is going to give your body the nutrients it needs to recover and refuel after your workout. Aim to get carbs and protein within 60 minutes of your workout, when your metabolic state is primed for recovery and repair – this will help you replenish your glycogen stores (fuel) and increase protein synthesis (lean muscle).

  41. Protein shake

  42. Cottage cheese and fruit

  43. Sweet potato with cottage cheese

  44. Poached eggs and whole-wheat toast

  45. Stir-fried chicken and veggies with brown rice

  46. Pasta wich chicken, broccoli and eggplant

  47. Whole-grain cereal with milk and a banana

  48. Vegetable omelet

  49. Spelt and chickpea salad

  50. Hummus with whole-wheat pita and vegetables

  51. Oatmeal with almond butter and banana

  52. Smoothie with whey protein, milk, banana and ice

  53. Greek yogurt with fruit and handful of granola

  54. Scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast

  55. Bean wrap: beans, hummus and pita

  56. Whole-grain bagel with egg whites

  57. Protein pancakes

  58. Cheese and crackers

  59. Egg salad

  60. Baked salmon and asparagus

  61. Egg white and spinach omelette

That’s it for our pre-workout and post-workout snack collection; they should keep you well fueled on your journey to being healthy and looking fantastic. A couple of last-minute tips:

  • Remember to stay hydrated – studies have found that water affects your athletic performance.
  • Keep a food and exercise journal – this helps you keep track of which snacks work best for you (and which ones to avoid).

What are your favorite workout snacks? Let us know in the comments below!

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2 Responses to “58 Easy Pre-Workout and Post-Workout Snacks”

  1. nawar youssef

    Thanks for these great information, but I am still confused about one thing. If I have one meal of the post-workout meals let’s say I had the “egg salad” meal do still I need the protein shake? Or that will replace it. Thank you so much again

    • FitBodyHQ

      @nawaryoussef:disqus glad you like it! You won’t need the protein shake since you’ll be getting your protein (amongst other important nutrients) from the egg salad.

      Protein shakes are good because they’re quick to consume, and the nutrients are already in a easily digestible state, but they can get a little boring sometimes.

      Especially when you consider the wealth of delicious post-workout snacks you COULD be eating!

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