How To Fuel For Your Exercise & What To Eat To Recover



By Athena Bechere

We’ll address two categories of exercise in this blog:  Cardio and Strength Training.  Read on!

Cardio – Hiking, HIIT, Running, Biking, etc.

These heart pumping activities require plenty of readily available energy in the form of carbohydrates. The body can easily take this source of fuel and turn it into the energy your muscles need to keep you going. In addition to well balanced meals and snacks throughout the day, these simple guidelines can have you exercise ready:

  • Minimal: fat & sugar
  • Moderate: protein
  • High: carbohydrates

Also, timing is everything. Depending on when you last ate and when you plan to exercise, will also help determine when and what to eat. It may even be best to plan on eating your next meal after your activity to avoid exercising with a full belly.

BEFORE you exercise:

If you have 60 – 90 minutes before you tackle your exercise, try:

  • Fruit smoothie with almond milk, berries and banana
  • Whole grain bagel/toast with almond butter
  • Apple slices with almond butter
  • Low fat yogurt with slices of banana
  • Whole grain crackers with hummus
  • Fruit and nut bar
  • Small bowl of cereal

If you’re in a time crunch and need a quick snack 15 – 30 minutes before your exercise, try:

  • Banana
  • Apple sauce
  • Saltine crackers

AFTER you exercise:

After you exercise your body has a 20-30 minute window of time that is will most efficiently absorb and restore your body with the essential energy and nutrients needed to recover. Protein and carbohydrates are still key components in this metabolic state, and also aid in muscle recovery and reduce soreness.

  • Apple with a handful of walnuts
  • Low fat chocolate milk and a banana
    • Or if you want to take it to the next level try blending chocolate milk, a banana, and a tablespoon of peanut butter with some ice for a treat that will also help you cool down.


  • Another essential element of recovery is hydration. Water is your best options because although sports drinks offer electrolytes that you have depleted during your workout, they also contain excess sugar and calories. A happy medium can be found with coconut water which will rehydrate you, taste great, and also replenish those electrolyte stores.

Strength Training, Weight Lifting, Resistance Training

These muscle building tactics are a great way to blow off some steam, while also seeing the physical results of your efforts. With regard to nutrition you want to have enough energy for your best performance, while minimizing muscle breakdown and maximizing muscle protein synthesis. You still want the majority of your meal to consist of carbohydrate to ensure adequate energy to get you through your workout. Fat takes much longer to digest and can leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable, while consuming protein prior to working out offers the benefit of increasing your energy expenditure even after completing your work out. With that in mind here are some ideas on how to best approach the right fuel:

BEFORE your workout:

If you’ll have 60-90 minutes to digest some great options include:

  • Oatmeal with banana slices, and a hardboiled egg
  • Baked sweet potato topped with low fat cottage cheese
  • Hummus with cucumber and tomato on a pita

If you’re down to 30 minutes prior to working out focus on carbohydrate and replenish with some protein after:

  • English muffin
  • Banana

AFTER your workout:

Now that you’ve put the work in, it’s time to refuel your body with the right nutrients for optimal recovery time and results. Protein offers the healing powers that your body needs in order to build from the work that you put in, and carbohydrate provide the energy to support healing and recovery. Some great options include:

  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • Chocolate milk with a banana
  • Cottage cheese and half an avocado with whole wheat crackers
  • Hardboiled egg with two slices of whole wheat toast



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s