Should you eat before or after a workout?

The answer is both.  

Eating before exercise provides your body with energy. Eating after exercising helps your body recover. But understanding the “what,” the “when,” and the “why” of pre-workout and post-workout nutrition will directly impact how you look, how you feel, and how you perform.

Foods rich in carbohydrates and protein provide the nutritional building blocks your hard-working body needs. Carbs supply the energy to carry you through your workout. And protein provides the amino acids that your body uses to repair and build muscle.  

Ideally, eat a well-balanced meal three to four hours before your workout. But, if you’re exercising very early in the morning, consider eating “optional.” Listen to your body and see how you feel and then make adjustments. Your plate should have carbohydrates and a moderate amount of protein. Limit fat and fiber, which digest slower and can upset your stomach while bouncing around during a workout.  

What about early morning exercise?

When you wake up your blood sugar is at its lowest and eating something like a piece of fruit, protein bar or a protein shake can give you a needed boost to tackle an early morning workout.

Consider the intensity of your workout, too. If it’s an easy-going, 30-minute session, you may be able to get away with skipping a pre-workout snack. But if you’re going for an hour or more, you really should get something to eat.

Pre-workout nutrition options

If you’re able to, plan a meal three to four hours in advance. Here are some high-quality choices that check multiple boxes for carbs and protein:

All-In-One Happy Shake Birthday Cake mixed with frozen fruit 
Greek yogurt with berries plus granola
Turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich with an apple

Focus on hydration, too, consuming at least 16 to 20 ounces of additional fluid in preparation for the sweating that awaits.


The average person loses about 1 liter, or 34 ounces, of fluid per hour of exercise.

Eating after a workout

Grab a protein-packed snack 15 minutes to an hour after your workout to begin refueling. Starting the process right away can help ward off muscle soreness, tightness and cramping. (It’s important to rehydrate and replace lost electrolytes, too.)

Here are a few healthy and delicious ideas:

Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables and rice
Egg omelet with avocado spread on whole grain toast
Quinoa bowl with sweet potatoes and pecans

Shakes, like the All-in-One Happy Shake, are a convenient and delicious option to have after a workout as well. Plus, Happy Shake includes vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant fiber for additional recovery benefits.

Workouts aren’t all the same, so your eating plan shouldn’t be either. If you want to burn fat, build muscle, and be ready to get back after it the next day, put the right fuel in your body before and after you work out. 


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