Working out is important to your physical and mental health. You might have questions about what to eat before and after workouts. I have done some research on the topic and want to share my findings with you. Eating a snack before working out in the morning will provide a boost of energy because your body has been fasting during the night. Eating a snack before working out in the late afternoon will also provide much needed energy given that you probably eat lunch several hours earlier. Experts in the field recommend that you eat something within one hour after working out to maximize recovery, if you are not planning to eat a regular meal. Below are some examples of balanced snacks and meals that will help fuel your body.
The type of food you should eat before a workout depends on the type of activity that you have planned. For strength training, aim for a snack rich in protein. This may include 6 ounces low fat Greek yogurt and ¼ cup of almonds, string cheese or an energy bar with 8 or more grams of protein (1). For a cardio workout, complex carbohydrates are a great energy source. Examples include a small box of raisins (2 tablespoons), a small banana, or one slice of whole wheat bread with a thin layer of peanut butter. Try eating these foods 30-60 minutes before working out to allow time for digestion.
If you exercise immediately before a meal like breakfast or lunch, then skip the post-workout snack and fuel your body with a healthy meal that contains quality carbohydrates and protein. Base your meal on the MyPlate guidelines to ensure that it is balanced and contains each food group (3). One example of a well-balanced meal is hard cooked eggs with a slice of whole grain toast and 100% fruit juice or oatmeal with berries and milk (2). If you workout later in the morning, try having a grilled chicken salad (with vegetables, nuts, quinoa and fruit such as apples or cranberries to provide a well-rounded meal with protein, fats, and carbohydrates) or turkey sub with whole wheat bread and a side of veggies for lunch.
If you do not have a meal planned close to your workout, plan to have a snack to replenish carbohydrate stores and repair muscles. Examples of great post workout snacks include: one tablespoon of nut butter on apple slices, 6-8 ounces of low fat chocolate milk or a string cheese with a few whole grain crackers.
Remember to hydrate and rehydrate! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 16-20 ounces of water at least 4 hours before working out and another 8-12 ounces 10 or 15 minutes after working out (4). Sip 3 to 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes during any work out that is less than 1 hour (1). Keep your body properly hydrated and fueled to get the best workout possible. We hope you have a fulfilling workout!
Written by HealthWorks member, Valerie Snell
- Wolfram, Taylor. “How to Fuel Your Workout”. Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 10 Jul. 2018, https://www.eatright.org/fitness/exercise/exercise-nutrition/how-to-fuel-your-workout
- Rosenbloom, Christine. “3 Easy Tips for Fueling Your Workout without Overdoing It.” Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics., 19 Oct. 2016, eatright.org/fitness/sports-and-performance/fueling-your-workout/3-easy-tips-for-fueling-your-workout-without-overdoing-it.
- Michael N. Sawka, FACSM (chair); Louise M. Burke, FACSM, E. Randy Eichner, FACSM, Ronald J. Maughan, FACSM, Scott J. Montain, FACSM, Nina S. Stachenfeld, FACSM. American College of Sports Medicine Exercise and Fluid Replacement Position Stand
HealthWorks utilized the kitchen in Beaver Hall to prepare a full, healthy meal for students. The purpose of the demonstration was to help students see how easy it is to make a nutritious meal with fresh ingredients.
In just thirty minutes we were able to prepare guacamole, black bean salad and vegetarian stuffed peppers. All three of these dishes are simple, healthy alternatives that can be prepared quickly for dinner or prepared at the beginning of the week to be eaten at a later time.
One of HealthWorks goals is to help students develop cooking skills that they’ll need when they move off campus. The kitchens in the residence halls are a great resource to help you start learning skills that you’ll need when you move into an apartment. By setting aside time in the day to prepare meals, or even once a week to meal-prep, you can create a healthy, nutritious meal with your friends. The recipes used in our demonstration, along with many other easy and delicious recipes and video tutorials, can be found here on the Healthy Penn State website in the Health Eating section.
Health Promotion and Wellness is currently accepting applications for HealthWorks, a peer outreach and education program at University Park. The deadline to apply is March 2.
HealthWorks offers two unique opportunities for students who are interested in health and wellness. These opportunities include facilitating one-on-one wellness services and conducting outreach events and educational workshops. During the application process students prioritize which opportunity they are most interested in.
Participation in the program is a three semester commitment, which includes one semester of training (during fall 2018) and two semesters of service. For this reason, students who wish to apply must plan to graduate in fall 2019 or later.
Training for the program requires the completion of a three-credit course offered through Biobehavioral Health in the fall semester. Students learn about the following topics in the course: alcohol and other drugs, financial literacy, sexual health, nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and stress. There are no prerequisites required to register for the course.
After completing the 3-credit course, participants are required to complete 45 hours of service each semester. Members participate in one of two opportunities: 1) deliver free wellness services about stress and time management, physical activity, nutrition, sleep, sexual health and healthy relationships, and financial literacy; or 2) conduct educational workshops, hold outreach events, plan and implement health promotion initiatives. A few examples of the health promotion initiatives include conducting healthy cooking demonstrations, writing blog and social media posts for Healthy Penn State and appearing in The Body Monologues. A small group of students are trained to provide HIV test counseling.
If you’re passionate about health and promoting the well-being of all Penn State students, then HealthWorks is a great fit for you,” said Christina Volpicelli, a senior majoring in biobehavioral health. “HealthWorks also offers many leadership and learning opportunities for its members such as video editing, leading health campaigns, public speaking and teaching skills to educate the Penn State community. Everything you will learn and the people you will meet through this organization will benefit you throughout any career you wish to pursue.”
For more information about HealthWorks, including an application, please visit http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/health/wellness/healthWorks.shtml.