Lara Felton is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist and head of the dietary team at the mobile nutrition app ShopWell.
A good workout can come down to many things, but one of the most important is your fueling strategy. What you eat determines how hard you can push yourself in the gym and how well your muscles recover afterward.
Not sure where to start on your pre- or post-workout nutrition plan? These tips will show you the way.
Focus on high carbs and moderate protein about 90 to 120 minutes before your workout.1 of 11
Pre-workout meals should be high in complex carbs (think whole grains), have some protein and be low in fat.
Aim to eat your pre-workout meal about two hours before exercising, so you've got the fuel you need—without any side cramps.
Remember, an ideal pre-workout meal is around 300 to 500 calories. Potential choices include a chicken, ham or tuna sandwich, chicken and pasta, boiled eggs and rice, whole grain cereal or a bowl of oatmeal.
Don't go crazy on the fiber before your workout.2 of 11
High fiber can upset your stomach while exercising, so avoid discomfort by staying away from large servings of high-fiber food before working out.
Some fiber with every meal is OK, especially if it's veggies, but beware of packing it in before you hit the gym.
Limit high-fat foods for two hours before your workout.3 of 11
Fats take a long time to digest. Step away from anything heavy in cheese, like pizza or fried foods, as a pre-workout snack. A small serving of fats is ideal, such as half an avocado or peanut butter toast.
Be smart, don't go hungry.4 of 11
You might think not eating before your workout helps burn more fat, but you'll likely feel lethargic during the entire workout and unable to push yourself. Eating a snack before tackling your routine doesn't defeat the purpose of exercising.
If you don't eat at all, you also run the risk of breaking down muscles that can stress your body during your workout.
Have only 30 minutes before a workout? Grab a snack.5 of 11
Sometimes having a pre-workout meal two hours beforehand just doesn't work out. But as the previous tip says, it's crucial not to go hungry.
Instead, grab a quick 50 to 100 calorie snack for a quick burst of energy. Choose mostly fast-digesting carbs, like fruit (think oranges, bananas, apples or raisins), a granola bar or some crackers, and you are good to go.
Stay hydrated during your workout.6 of 11
I can't emphasize this enough—drink water. During a workout, drink 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes throughout your training session. In warm weather you sweat more, so you will need to up your hydration when it gets hotter.
If you are exercising for more than 60 minutes, switch to a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade to help replace electrolytes and carbohydrates.
Focus on carb and protein-heavy meals post-workout.7 of 11
Looking for the secret formula to refueling after your workout? An ideal post-workout meal is a blend of carbs and protein.
The basic rule: Aim for 50 grams of carbs and 20 grams of protein within one hour of finishing your workout to begin the recovery process for your muscles.
Limit foods high in fiber and fat within two hours of your workout.8 of 11
These foods will just upset your stomach, and fats will slow down the absorption of the protein and carbs your body needs.
However, be sure to include these in your other meals and snacks throughout the day, since fiber and healthy fats, like fish, nuts, olive oil and peanut butter, are an important part of a balanced diet.
Recovery on the go? Focus on protein!9 of 11
Don't have time for a full meal after you exercise? Try protein bars or shakes instead. One of my favorite go-to options is Greek yogurt. It makes a great healthy snack on its own, or you can use it as the base for smoothies.
Say yes to chocolate milk.10 of 11
Yes, you read that correctly, I said chocolate milk. Chocolate milk provides the perfect ratio of four grams of carbs to one gram of protein, which is optimal for post-workout muscle recovery.