We've covered what you should eat after working out. But what about beforehand? You need to fuel up properly, because exercising on an empty stomach will leave you aching and out of steam before you've accomplished all the training you were aiming to do. According to registered dietician and author Manuel Villacorta, you want a combination of carbs and protein to provide a stream of energy during strenuous exercise and nutrients to repair muscles afterward. Here's what to grab to give your body what it needs, without having to hit the health food store.
Peanut Butter on Whole Grain Toast
Whole grains are packed with fiber, providing slow-release, sustained energy to keep your motor humming throughout the duration of a workout. Smear it with a tablespoon of your favorite protein-packed peanut butter for the fuel your muscle tissue and nervous system needs. For an added bonus, add a dash of cinnamon. The spice has been linked to stabilizing blood sugar and improving brain function.
No time to prep a snack? Grab a handful (approx. ¼ cup) of dried fruit like berries, apples, apricots and pineapple. The less time you have before you exercise, the more carbs—and less protein—you should ingest. Protein intake too close to a workout may lead to cramps and indigestion. A handful of dried fruit provides simple carbs that offer instant energy, while any brightly-colored berries fight oxidative stress during a workout.