Today I’m going to share something with you I would have paid $500 to know 4 years ago.

I was training for my first marathon and was running in the evenings after work. One night I came home and was feeling pretty hungry and thought I’d eat something before going for a run. Ever had this dilemma? I prepared spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, laced up my shoes 2 hrs later and found myself nearly throwing-up after only 15 minutes.

Here’s what I wished someone would have told me…

Working Out: What to eat before, during & after one

workouts what to eat

  • Always eat light before, and big meals in between.
  • If you’re going to workout in the evening, eat a light plant-based dinner 3 hours before, or piece of fruit before and meal afterwards.
  • Go easy on the bread, it’s dehydrating and pulls the water from your blood and muscles.
  • If you’re going to workout in the morning, do it on an empty stomach and eat when you get back. If you’re hungry, grab a piece of fruit with lots of water in it. IE an orange, apple or some pineapple.
  • Always drink lots of water when working out, especially outside on hot days. Your body can handle hunger, but not dehydration.
  • You Need All 3: carbs, fats and proteins.
    • Carbs & Fats are workout fuel.
    • Protein is not fuel, it’s for repairing your muscles. Focus on eating protein an hour after your workout.
    • Carbohydrates are quick fuel your body uses first, and are the main fuel for high-intensity workouts.
    • Sweet potatoes, pasta and bread are slow burning fuel, which means you will be fuller longer. These are good after workouts.
    • Fruit and sugar are quick burning fuel, which is good as a light pre-workout snack because they give you fast energy.
    • Fat is a slow burning fuel needed for longer workouts, like 2+ Hrs such as marathons, hiking, triathlons, etc. It’s slow burning and you should not eat too much of it before a workout.
  • It’s fairly consistent. Most mornings you may wake up ready for an hour workout before eating anything, but sometimes you might need a small piece of fruit to carry you through a workout.
  • If you get hungry mid-workout, go for some fruit with high-water content like apples or pears. Bananas and dates have lots of sugar for energy but you need to drink extra water with these.
  • For Running or Hot Yoga first thing in the morning, drink a bunch of water the night before and throughout the night.
  • Post workout think salads, smoothie bowls or grain bowls with lots of fresh vegetables.
  • Eat mostly plant-based, period. This will give you optimal digestion, metabolism and recovery before/after workouts.

What Not to eat before, during or after a workout

workouts what not to eat

  • Eggs before – there’s too much protein and fat, which are not what will give you the burst of energy you’re hoping for.
  • PBJ Sandwich or oatmeal before – I used to eat these before long runs. I stopped because nuts have too much fat and bread is too filling and made me feel sluggish.
  • Coffee before – it’s too dehydrating. Get off the joe and get that natural energy flow back from whole foods.
  • Protein bars during – again save the protein until afterwards, your stomach will thank you.
  • Gatorade during – get yourself some coconut water and give your body some whole food electrolytes to sip on.
  • Chocolate Milk after – full of refined sugar and animal fats. Give your body an antioxidant-rich superfood smoothie with almond butter, greens and protein powder instead!

To Summarize

This is the whole reason I switched to a plant-based diet. I’ve realized that fueling my workouts right depends on how well I follow these principles. If you eat light, hydrate well and get some good easily digestible proteins afterwards you’ll be on the right track.

We’re all different, so I’d love to hear what works for you. How do you fuel your workouts?

    5 replies to "Working Out and What to Eat"

    • Jory

      I love this information! I was just thinking about this very question earlier today. Realistically, my workouts have to happen right when I get up or they won’t typically happen. Glad to know how to eat properly now. Thanks!!!

      • Peter Hagstrom

        Thanks Jory! Sarah and I are the same way, we pretty much have to workout first thing in the morning or it might not happen at all :/

      • sarah

        Hi Jory! True that for us to! Mornings are always a hit for workouts:)

    • I just found your blog and I love it! Cant’ wait to continue reading! :)

    • sarah

      Yay! welcome Emily, we are so happy you found us and we love the name of your blog:)

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