Healthspan Editorial Team February 22, 2018

Snacking before and after exercise is a complex topic. Will I get a stitch if I snack too close to a workout? Will eating too much beforehand make me feel nauseous? Should I be topping up on protein after exercising intensively? Fortunately, we’ve put together a handy guide that will give you some top tips and provide you with inspiration for what to eat before and after your workout.

What Snack Should I Eat Before and After Exercise?

We know nutrition has a big impact on physical performance. Just as snacking on foods that’ll give your body the boost of energy it needs can make all the difference for achieving your personal best, the wrong type of foods can have a negative effect, too.

What's The Best Food To Eat Before Exercise?

When it comes to snacking before exercise, carbohydrates are your best friend. A lot of people ask, ‘What can give me energy?’ and the answer is a mixture of complex and simple carbs will make for a slow release of energy throughout your run, or swim or walk – or whatever activity you might be doing.

How Close Should You Eat To Your Workout?

Most experts agree you should eat a small snack an hour before you work out – so your body has plenty of time to digest it. If you’re eating a big meal, though, a couple of hours before will leave you less likely to develop a stitch. The type of foods you’re snacking on will have an impact, too. Take a look below for some inspiration for pre-workout appetisers.

1. Peanut butter and banana on wholemeal toast
Banana is a great pre-race snack as your potassium levels lower when you sweat, whilst the wholemeal toast will provide that slow release of energy. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon for extra pizzazz.

2. Yoghurt and nutty granola with dried fruit
Yoghurt is gentle on your stomach and – when it’s paired with nutty granola and dried fruit – works out as a perfectly balanced, energising snack. Be careful with granola, though, as shop bought is often high in sugar.

3. Smoothies
Smoothies are ideal if your headed for a morning workout and aren’t great at eating breakfast. Whizz up some oats with yoghurt, peanut butter and frozen berries and your body will thank you for that bit of sustenance that contains a balance of high fibre carbs (oats), protein (yoghurt), fat (peanut butter) and antioxidants (berries).

What's The Best Food To Eat After Exercise?

Carbohydrates are less important at this point seen as your body has entered into repair mode. When we exercise we create micro-tears in our muscles - this is what makes them grow. When you’re struggling to climb the stairs after leg day, it’s because your muscles are in the process of healing. Protein is important for aiding this process so try to factor it into a post-workout snack.

1. An omelette
Eggs are a cheap way of upping your protein intake – and they’re oh so easy to cook! Get creative with an omelette by adding in your favourite vegetables and topping with a sprinkling of cheese. It’s not just protein eggs are high in – they contain lots of vitamin A and vitamin B12, too.

2. Protein shake
Just like smoothies, if you’re stuck for time but are keen to get that extra bit of protein into your diet after exercise, a protein shake is easy and versatile. For those that get fed up with the same flavour, try a natural protein that comes with added flavour drops.

3. Chicken and vegetables
Chicken and vegetables don’t have to be part of a meal. Chicken is plentiful in protein and will keep you satisfied without leaving you bloated. The vegetables will top up your nutrients and, again, will keep you full but not overly bloated. If buying chicken as a snack just isn’t going to cut it – we totally understand! – then revert to suggestion 2, as buying protein powder in bulk can be more cost effective.



Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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