Are there foods that really help us perform better, both before and after a workout? Nutrition, of course is important for health and wellbeing, but what are the best things to eat just before and after a heavy exercise session?


Carbs – you may have heard the phrase “carbing up”, from those who are training for a hard physical event, such as a marathon or tri. In this instance, you’re best off eating the carbs a couple of days before the event so your body has time to absorb the energy. Then 1 -3 hours prior to the event try fueling with something like a banana sandwich, a peanut butter sandwich, or another small snack that your body can tolerate.

Nuts are a great pre-workout snack, as are pieces of fruit like apples and bananas. Yogurt or milkshake is also a good option if you need something quick.


Carbs help to fuel your muscles, and after you’ve spent all that energy, you’ll want to replenish your energy levels, but also your sugars and salts – lost through sweat.

You should aim to eat a balanced meal within half an hour of a heavy workout. Make it light so that your stomach can stand it – and try and include carbs, proteins, sugar and salt.

Proteins are important for the repairing process – they rebuild muscle that has been torn or damaged through exercise.

Try easy to consume foods and drinks such as a smoothie, made with fruit, a chicken sandwich with vegetables. If you are following a plant-based diet, try nuts, a banana and a soya yoghurt.

Specific sports drinks come pre-packed with all the sugars and salts you’ll need to replace those lost during a workout and are a great idea.

Remember though, don’t try anything radically different on the day of a heavy workout. Introduce anything new to your routine slowly and check your body can cope with it first.


The Author

Laura Briggs

Laura is a fitness writer who loves running, strength training, Pilates and Yoga. When she's got time to herself you might find her knitting, or in the kitchen trying out an elaborate recipe - healthy of course!.


Michael W.
30 October 2018

Michael W.

Are nuts really a great workout snack? i would have thought that high protein and fatty foods were best avoided before a workout and better for after

Dan M.
26 October 2018

Dan M.

I find sports drinks horribly sickly - and very pricey too. After a workout it is a banana and a big bottle of water filled from the tap for me. Job done.

Ashley C.
26 October 2018

Ashley C.

I would be lost without peanut butter and bananas for before or after workouts. They're portable, natural and delicious. Sounds like I'm doing ok with that.

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