When and What Do I Eat Before and After My Workouts?

By: Sarah Gresham

First question, “When do I eat?

The general nutrient timing recommendation for pre- & post-workout is 1-2 hours before your workout and 1-2 hours after your workout. A healthy meal should be a well balanced ratio of lean protein, carbohydrates, and fat, along with low calorie beverage – like water.

Pre-workout meals will help with energy level, performance, hydration and will aid in preserving muscle mass, as well as speeding up your recovery.

While post-workout meals will help you refuel, recover, rehydrate, build muscle, and improve your future performance.

If your 1-2 hour window to consume a healthy pre/post-workout meal just isn’t feasible (because LIFE!). Consider planning ahead & have an easily digestible snack or liquid. Consume a shake/smoothie, 30-60 minutes before/after your workout. Try not to consume your snack or shake/smoothie too close to working out. This may cause nausea and muscle fatigue during your workout, as your body works through digestion.

For those of you who workout very early in the morning, you may not feel like eating yet. And that is totally normal! Keep in mind, the meal from the night before is fuel for your early morning workout. Be sure to consume a healthy well balanced meal each evening & prepare a post-workout meal to get your day started!

Here’s an example of what your pre/post-wod smoothie might look like:
  • 1-2 scoops protein powder
  • 1-2 (fist size serving) of fresh spinach
  • ½ – 1 banana (or berries)
  • ½ – 1 (thumb size serving) of fat – like peanut butter, mixed nuts or seeds
  • 4-8oz. Chocolate or vanilla, unsweetened almond milk
Next question, “What (and how much) do I need to eat?”

Next question, “What (and how much) do I need to eat?” As a general guideline, you should be consuming a healthy balance of lean protein, carbohydrates, and fat for every meal. However, the exact amount depends on your body type, activity level and your personal goals.

First, pick “Lean Protein” sources like; turkey, chicken, lean beef, bison, elk, deer, wild caught fish, farm fresh eggs & dairy.

Next, select “Smart Carbohydrates” including; veggies (all of them!), fruit, berries, potatoes, rice & whole grains.

Lastly, choose good sources of “Healthy Fats” like; olives, avocados, nuts & seeds.

Men, here’s what “eyeballing” your meal portions might look like:
  • 2x palm sized portions of lean protein
  • 2x fist sized portions of vegetables
  • 2x cupped hands of carbs (like berries, rice or potato)
  • 2x thumbs of fat (like nuts & seeds)
Women, here’s what “eyeballing” your meal portions might look like:
  • 1x palm sized portion of lean protein
  • 1x fist sized portion of vegetables
  • 1x cupped hand of carbs (like berries, rice or potato)
  • 1x thumb of fat (like nuts & seeds)

Note: actual portions will depend on your size, how often you eat, goals, results & activity levels.

Nutrition is the base of the CrossFit prescription and we are happy to help you build a solid foundation.

To learn more about Oregon CrossFit’s Fitness & Nutrition Programs schedule a FREE Intro Call here:


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