What to Eat Before, During, and After a Workout

Get tips on what kids and adults should eat before, during, and after the game.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #96

Tip #3: What to Eat During a Workout

Bodies can easily store enough energy for about 60 minutes of sustained, high-intensity action. 

Bodies can easily store enough energy for about 60 minutes of sustained, high-intensity action. I’m not talking about an afternoon spent in the outfield, on the bench, or waiting for your event at the meet. I’m talking about 60 minutes actually running around the soccer field, basketball court, or long-distance trail.

If the practice, game, or meet involves constant, intense exercise for significantly more than an hour, a small snack during a break will help keep the kids’ energy up. Again, you want foods that can be quickly digested and absorbed, such as fruit or fruit juice

High-tech goos and gels aren’t essential but they are formulated for exactly this circumstance—to provide easily digested carbohydrates for intense workouts lasting longer than sixty minutes. You probably don’t want a protein bar or anything with a lot of fat or fiber in the middle of the game because these are more work for the body to digest.

Tip #4: What to Eat After a Workout

Any balanced, nutritious meal will make a good post-game meal. In particular, you want to make sure it includes complex carbohydrates (such as pasta or whole grains) and some protein to help repair muscles. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of protein, by the way. A little bit goes a long way.

If it’s going to be a couple of hours before that post-game meal, the kids are probably going to want a snack. (When do kids not want a snack?) But why sabotage the benefits of all that healthy activity by letting them eat junk food afterward? Trail mix with roasted nuts and dried fruit provides the carbohydrates and protein that your body is looking for after a work-out, and it’s easy to carry without refrigeration. Try to keep portion sizes moderate so that they’re still hungry for that healthy meal that’s waiting for them at home.


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.