An image of healthy food

If you’ve been sweating it out in the gym for some time now, trying to shed those extra kilos, but you do not see the desired results, poor eating habits may be the culprit. Of course, if you hit the gym regularly, you’re already well on your way to a slimmer body. But shedding fat isn’t just about a carefully thought-out workout program and breaking a sweat. It is also about ensuring the machine that is your body is well-fuelled to keep up with the pace of your training sessions and maintain intensity. Nutrient timing and figuring out what nutrients you should be getting in pre-and post-workout are also important. It can be a bit of a struggle, but it is worth it. Here’s what to eat before and after a workout to lose weight.

Pre-workout nutrition

Why is it so important to eat before training?

People often make the mistake of not eating before training. They either don’t know or don’t assign much importance to it. But going into a workout well-fueled helps you burn more calories and gives you the energy you need to go through a rigorous exercise session, thus improving your work performance and speeding up your weight loss.

That’s because, when working out, whether they’re weight lifting, dancing, or squatting, a person digs into their body’s energy reserve and drains it all at once.

So, a good workout session hinges on providing your body with all the necessary fuel. And, if it doesn’t get enough of this fuel, it starts breaking down your muscle tissue to use for energy. Your goal is to focus on losing fat and building muscle, right? Then, missing out on a nutritious pre-workout snack is counterproductive. What’s more, you could get dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, lethargic, and even injured. So, it’s time to learn about healthy snacking!

How to time your pre-workout snack?

When you eat before a workout is just as important as what you eat, so let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: you should definitely avoid eating right before training. For optimal results, it’s best to eat 45 minutes to three hours before hitting the gym floor.

Also, with our busy schedules nowadays, you won’t always have the time to eat before going to the gym. That’s why home gyms are so convenient and time-efficient. It completely cuts your drive time, thus improving your chances of squeezing in a pre-workout snack, even on a busy day. And you can always rent a storage unit if you need some extra space for various items and equipment.

Woman preparing a meal.
If you don’t have the time to prepare and eat a meal at home, make sure you grab something on the way.

But, since most of us don’t have a home gym, we have to find a way to work it into our schedules to grab a bite or two of a healthy snack and fuel up. You might also have to experiment a bit to figure out the best time frame for your body. For instance, if you tend to work out first thing in the morning, then eating a whole meal before hitting the gym isn’t such a good idea. A mini-breakfast or a small healthy snack should suffice in this case. Also, you can start sipping on a protein-packed smoothie 30 minutes to an hour before leaving for the gym. Then, you can finish the other half once you’re done.

What should you eat before exercising to lose weight?

Let’s put this simply: carbs = energy. Consuming carbs before high-intensity cardio or an endurance exercise ensures enough glucose for your body to replenish the glycogen stores. This enables your body to exercise at its maximum capacity without breaking down muscles. Your pre-workout meal should also contain a little bit of protein. This is a good idea – especially if you’re doing weight training, which creates small tears in our muscle fibers. While resting, your body repairs these tears and builds up your muscles – and it needs protein to do it. Go for something easy to digest, and be sure not to overeat to avoid getting an upset stomach in the middle of your workout. Of course, make sure you stay hydrated.

A person holding a glass of water.
Don’t forget to drink water.

Ideas for your pre-workout snack

  • A pear or an apple with nut butter;
  • Oatmeal with banana and almonds;
  • Oatmeal with fruit and peanut butter;
  • Fruit smoothies;
  • Greek yogurt with berries and granola;
  • Dried fruit with mixed nuts;
  • A granola bar;
  • Rice cakes with nut butter;
  • A slice of toast with jam or honey;
  • Baked salmon with brown rice and vegetables.

  • Beans;
  • Cauliflower;
  • Cabbage;
  • Pastries and sugary donuts;
  • Fried Food;
  • Carbonated Drinks;
  • Spicy Food.
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Free Natural Nutrition Course

Why is it so important to eat after a workout?

Once you’re done with your workout, you need to replace the calories you used up. Firstly, replenishing the glycogen stores is essential. Secondly, just like we’ve said, you need protein to help speed up your muscle recovery, especially after weight training. Finally, food contains electrolytes, minerals your neurons use to fire properly, which you lose when sweating. If you eat after a workout, you’ll avoid feeling fatigued, battling low blood sugar, or inhibiting your body’s repair process. Routinely skipping your post-workout meal makes it harder for you to reach your fitness goals.

Woman exercising in a gym.
You must make sure to eat after your training sessions, especially if you’re doing weight training.

What and when should you eat after a workout to lose weight?

To ensure that your body recovers faster and aids in weight loss, it’s essential to refuel with carbohydrates and protein within 45 minutes after training. Carbs help replenish glycogen levels, and healthy protein provides amino acids for muscle recovery. For the best results, mix the two (a ratio of 3:1 carbohydrates versus proteins). Of course, it’s pretty much needless to say that you need to rehydrate ASAP.

Ideas for your post-workout snack

  • A cup of chocolate milk;
  • One slice of wheat toast with peanut butter and banana slices;
  • Two graham crackers with some peanut butter;
  • Hard-boiled egg or two with a slice of whole-wheat toast;
  • A 7-inch round whole wheat pita with hummus and grilled veggies;
  • A protein-rich green smoothie;
  • A veggie omelet with roasted potatoes and avocado;
  • Steamed trout (4 ounces) with a baked sweet potato and sautéed spinach.

What to eat before and after a workout to lose weight

It might be a bit tricky to figure out what to eat before and after a workout. But if you’re determined to shed those unwanted kilos, getting in the right nutrients will help you see the desired results.


Lynne is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, meal prep mastermind, wife and mother of three. Lynne’s dreams and creativity have brought Holistic Nutrition Hub to fruition so that all Nutrition Practitioners can better help their clients and attain their business goals.

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