10 Easy Snack Ideas For Before & After Exercise


Choosing the right food to fuel your body and training sessions is important...

Choose the right foods and you'll maximise your exercise sessions, your body and muscles will repair faster, and your immune system will be optimised so you don't get sick and take days off from training. But, what are the best snacks to fuel your exercise sessions?


Food for Fuelling Exercise - Carbs, Protein or Both?

Food eaten before training must contain carbohydrate; as carbohydrate contains the glucose your muscles need for movement. Ideally your pre-exercise snacks and meals will also provide a good supply of nutrients too (e.g. protein, vitamins and minerals) as these will help keep your body in top shape.

Weight Training Requires Protein Too

If you're weight training or aiming to increase muscle bulk, you will need to include protein in every snack or meal. This will raise amino acid levels in your blood and scientists believe this may encourage greater muscle development.


Fuel Up At The Right Time

Full-size meals must be eaten 3-4 hours before training to ensure they're digested before you start your workout. If you can't eat 3-4 hours before training (because you're asleep, for example) then eat a light breakfast or snack 1-2 hours before your training session. You can then eat a more filling meal afterwards.


6 Simple Pre-Exercise Snack Ideas

Quick carb and protein-containing snacks for a before-exercise fuel up include:

  • Crumpets with jam/honey and milk

  • Fruit salad with fruit yoghurt

  • Fruit smoothie or milk shake

  • Breakfast cereal with milk

  • Fruit-flavoured yoghurt

  • Cereal bar


Post-Exercise Refuelling Is Crucial

A good sized snack or meal after exercising will help your muscles to refuel, carbs consumed immediately after exercise will help to refuel your body promptly. Your snack or meal will also need to rehydrate you and kick-start your immune system. 

The immune system is suppressed by intense training but research has shown that consuming a meal or snack containing carbohydrate is one of the best things you can do to boost your immune system and cut those sick days out.


Building Muscle? The Secret To Maximising The Effect of Protein...

Protein in your post-exercise snack or meal will provide amino-acids for your body to use in repairing any damage to your muscles from the exercise session. Prolonged and high-intensity exercise will cause some muscle breakdown, so repairing this damage is important.

A protein serving is crucial after training if you're undertaking weight training to encourage the muscle rebuilding process. To maximise the effect of protein consume it with carbohydrate.

If you consume a protein and carb containing snack after exercise your results are likely to outstrip the results of others who just consume protein supplements. Maximise your results by ensuring any food you eat after training contains both carbs and protein.


8 Easy Snacks For Refuelling After Training

These carb and protein combos will refuel your body and promote greater muscle growth:

  • Milk shake or fruit smoothie

  • Breakfast cereal with milk

  • Baked beans on toast

  • Crumpets with peanut butter and milk

  • Fruit salad with fruit yoghurt

Or try these simple-to-remember combos of carbs and protein:

  • Fruit yoghurt and cereal bar or banana

  • Flavoured milk and cereal bar or banana

  • Fruit yoghurt and flavoured milk

Note: The above combo suggestions are for a 60kg athlete; add another serving to the combo for an 80kg athlete, e.g. fruit yoghurt and cereal bar and banana. Source: Australian Institute of Sport.




About The Author
Jennifer Bowden Nutritionist, MSc (Dist), BSc (Hons) - Human Nutrition

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