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Fuel Food: Before & After

October 3, 2016


All worked up to work out? Not so fast! Let’s take a look at the best fuel foods to eat before and after exercise to optimise stamina, energy and results: leading to the most productive of sweat sessions.

PRE and POST exercise foods or meals play a key role in the effectiveness of our workouts. What you put into your body ahead of exercise is important for fuelling the workout itself and maximising performance throughout. What you consume after your workout is crucial for optimising the recovery process and ensuring the body has all of the stores it needs in order to replenish, repair, recover and ultimately make gains in progress.

When it comes to choosing fuel foods in those important pre and post workout nutrition windows, two macronutrients are your BFFs: lean protein sources to build and repair muscle and complex carbohydrates to fuel energy needs.


The primary goal of the PRE workout meal is to:

Release the energy required to exercise

Reduce muscle glycogen depletion

Reduce muscle protein breakdown

Reduce post workout cortizol levels


To ensure you’re not hungry halfway through your workout and that you have plenty of fuel in the tank to train, aim to consume a small pre-workout meal or snack 1 – 2 hours before you get started. The nutrients will be readily available to boost your workout, releasing steady energy as you train. Here, fast-digesting carbs and protein are required to fuel your muscles. For example:

Banana with nut butter

Porridge with berries

Multi-grain crackers with hummus

Guacamole and raw veggies

Apple and walnuts

Wholegrain toast with scrambled eggs

Protein shake with a banana

Small sweet potato with tuna

Greek yogurt and sliced fruit



The window after your workout is also known as the “anabolic phase”, as anabolism refers to the building or rebuilding of something. The purpose of the post workout meal is to:

Replenish depleted muscle glycogen

Reduce muscle protein breakdown

Increase muscle protein synthesis (repair)

Reduce muscle fatigue and soreness (recover)


The same two elements your body benefits from before your workout are the same two your body needs after your workout. Here it is vital to consume carbs and protein soon after exercise, as this window is when the body is primed to accept these nutrients so it can immediately put them to use. Ideally this meal should be eaten within the first 60 minutes after your workout. For example:

Whole-wheat tuna, houmous and spinach sandwich

Steamed vegetables with fish

Salad with roasted chickpeas and chicken

Protein shake with oats

Quinoa bowl with berries and nuts

Multi-grain bread with nut butter

Roasted turkey and vegetables

Baked sweet potato and salmon fillet

Burrito with beans, guacamole and pulled chicken

Vegetable omelette with avocado


Make your meals work for you and feel the gains, not the burn!

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