The Best Pre- and Post-Workout Meals Made Simple

Healthy food to eat before or after a workout

Ever Wonder If You Can Actually Feel Good During and After a Workout?

The answer is a resounding YES! And the key to feeling good during and after exercise is … you guessed it: proper pre- and post-workout nutrition.

But if you’ve ever searched the web to find out what you should eat before or after your workouts, you probably found enough information to make your head spin.  

Let’s face it, we all have different physical needs to keep our bodies in optimum shape. And no two people are exactly alike or have the same nutrition needs. So what exactly are the best pre- and post-workout meals for you? 

If you’re new to fitness, or just getting back into it after a six-month or more sabbatical, this blog is geared toward you!

For the first two weeks of consistent exercise, make sure you eat something small before you exercise. This helps you by warming up your body and providing your body with glucose (fuel) for your upcoming workout. 

When you haven’t exercised before, or for several months, your glucose stores in your muscles and liver are small because you haven’t needed them. 

But when you exercise, your muscles require glucose to work—even if you’re winded and feel like you’re barely breaking a sweat.

Always consult your fitness coach if you need more guidance beyond the information here. For example, at Mo-Mentum Fitness in Huntington Beach, we work with you to find out what nutrition works best for you.

Your Body Needs That Fuel.

Our muscles use a lot of energy (this is what we want), mainly in the form of glucose. And when you first start working out, your muscles require more energy than what you have in reserves.

So eat a little before your workout to provide energy during your workout. And then after your workout, your body needs another snack (or meal) in order for your muscles to recover and build when you sleep.  

Your pre- and post-workout nutrition needs to include protein and whole, real carbohydrates like rice, fruit, and potatoes.

Keep reading for some simple and highly effective pre- and post-workout meals.

Your Pre-Workout Meals Are Simpler Than You Might Think.

The key is to provide your body with the glucose it needs, all while building muscle and increasing your ability to store enough energy for your workout.


  • ½  or whole small banana, orange or pear
  • ½ piece of toast with ½ banana and 1 tsp of peanut butter 
  • ½ protein shake with fruit and veggies (You can finish the other ½ after your workout.) 
  • Here’s a link to a yummy Crunchy Apple Nachos recipe from

Just make sure you don’t fill up your stomach so much that you’re cramping or upchucking during your workout! 

And don’t forget, water is non-negotiable! Drink 8 to 16 ounces of water BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT.

If you’re traveling into the gym for your workout, drink your water when you wake up and on your drive over.

Don’t chug it all down at once,  but do drink it within the first 30 minutes of waking.  AND make sure to bring more water with you to drink during your workout. We always have water here at Mo-Mentum for you, too, just in case you forget yours.

Drinking coffee before your workout is fine, but not in place of a small, easily digestible snack (like those listed above) and in addition to your water.


You may have heard that working out fasted (on an empty stomach) is a great way to burn fat. This is true sometimes!  However, when you are new or returning to exercise, your body needs two to eight (and sometimes more) weeks to adjust to your new routine before you should consider fasted workouts.  

If you have been consistently working out, you may be able to work out while fasting and feel great. In that case, stick with what you are doing. Your body will communicate to you what works best in how you feel.

Post-Workout Meals Are Crucial to Your Body’s Recovery.

Your post-workout meal is critical because this is your chance to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to rebuild your muscle and replenish your energy stores.  

If you’re new to working out or returning after a six month or more hiatus, eat your post-workout meal within two hours of exercising, because it’s crucial your body refills its energy stores. 

After your workout (0-2 hours after), your meal can look like the following healthy, energy-charged options.  Eat a combination of 30-50 grams of protein, some healthy fat, and then eat your starchy whole food carbohydrates last. 

For Women: 

  • 1 palm of protein (4-5 ounces)
  • 2-3 fists of vegetables
  • 1 cupped handful (approx ¼ cup) of fiber-filled carbs
    • This includes fruit, rice, potatoes, starchy veggies, and quinoa. Beans can fit in here, too. 
    • If you’re trying to stick to a low-carb food plan, the meal after your workout is usually the best time to have your carbs.
  • 1 thumb-sized amount of good fats
    • Olive oil and balsamic vinegar salad dressing 
    • Butter 
    • Cheese 
  • water … at least 16 ounces *

*Drinking coffee after your morning workout is fine, but not in the place of water. 

For Men:

  • 1-2 palms of protein (5-8 ounces) 
  • 3-4 fists of vegetables
  • 1 cupped handful of carbs (½ cup)
  • 2 thumb-sized amounts of good fats
    • Olive oil and balsamic vinegar salad dressing 
    • Butter 
    • Cheese 
  • water … at least 20 ounces *

*Again, drinking coffee after your morning workout is fine, but not in the place of water. 

Still Unclear About Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition? Mo-Mentum Fitness Can Help!

Eating after your workout helps your body bounce back to full energy quicker. But sometimes after your workout, you might not feel hungry. That’s okay. If you don’t feel like eating, you can go with liquid nutrition, like a protein shake. Any of the Mo-Mentum Fitness coaches can give you protein shake recommendations.

Proper pre- and post-workout nutrition provides the nutrients essential for building your muscle, for all of your cells to function properly, and for nourishing your body to thrive. 

Just to be clear for the ladies, when I talk about building muscle, I’m not talking about giant, man-sized, body-builder muscles. I’m talking about healthy, vibrant, toned muscles that help you move and live free of pain and limitations! 

At Mo-Mentum Fitness in Huntington Beach, we are committed to your well-being. Our mission is to help provide you with the tools to live your most extraordinary life!

And this means we want you to feel confident and empowered when making choices that are best for your body, mind, and spirit.  If we haven’t had the privilege of meeting you yet, please stop by, call, or click here to schedule your free assessment and strategy session.

If you’re already part of our Mo-Tribe, don’t forget that we offer nutrition coaching, both in person and online. Here’s to living your most extraordinary life!

Amanda and Team Mo


Precision Nutrition

Jade Teta N.D

Picture of Amanda Mittleman

Amanda Mittleman

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