Workout Nutrition Made SIMPLE

Workout Nutrition Made SIMPLE

Energy drinks?  Gu?  Bananas?  Water?  Recovery Smoothies?

The list of things that are sold these days to help you:

  • run better
  • run longer
  • fuel your workout
  • decrease fatigue
  • burn more fat
  • increase your metabolism

….could go on forever!

The real question is, do you really NEED all that stuff?

Sports Recovery Nutrition?

I’m gonna help you cut through the BS, and tell you what you really need to know to:

  • run your best 5K (PS….all of this, plus much MUCH more is included for FREE when you register for the Run3seams 5K here:  )
  • fuel your workouts and recovery
  • burn fat and lose weight

So lets keep this simple!

If your goal is to lose weight, burn fat and your workouts last under 1 hour:


This is up to you.  Some people do well with exercising on an empty stomach, others get nauseous if they don’t have something to eat before a workout.  The currently research really is divided on what works best for weight loss.  So experiment here.  But keep your snack small.  A piece of toast with 2 tablespoon of nut butter, a protein smoothie or a hard boiled egg with an apple are good choices.

One exception: If you workout in the late afternoon or afterwork: have a small snack on your way to your workout or 1 hour prior to your workout.  Exercise can often be an appetite stimulant.  If you haven’t eaten within 3 hours of your workout, you may be tempted to overeat at dinner or late afternoon due to post workout metabolism increases.

During the workout:

Water.  Stay hydrated!  For workouts under an hour, your body already has all the nutrition it needs to keep your muscles firing and to keep you going strong!

After the workout:

Within an hour of your workout, you’ll want to refuel with a mix of healthy carbohydrates (these replenish the glucose your body used to fuel your workout) and protein (this gives your muscles the amino acid building blocks they need to repair themselves).  Great options are: banana and nut butter, chocolate milk and pasta with veggies and chicken.

Tip: I like to time this with a meal.  That way I’m replenishing and fueling at the same time.  If I’m in a fat burning mode, this is when I’ll have my oatmeal, toast or rice/pasta.  Other than that I won’t eat grains so as to keep my body burning the stored fat/glucose that it has.

If your goal is to run your best race, aid in recovery and your workouts last more than 1 hour:


Remains the same as above.

During the workout:

Water and workout nutrition.

If you’re doing endurance cardio, like running, cycling, walking, swimming, etc for longer than 1 hour, you’ll want to eat or drink something during your workout to keep your muscles with proper nutrition.  The rule of thumb here is to eat something that your stomach can easily digest and tolerate (ie…not throw up!).  Carbs and simple sugars work well here.  Think energy drinks, Gu, jelly beans, gummy blocks, etc.  Protein is not what you want right now as it takes too long for your body to break it down to use it.  I find that it is easiest to start fueling at the hour mark and every 15 minutes after when exercising continuously for over 1 hour.

Post-workout nutrition:

Same as above.  Keeping your water intake elevated to aid in lactic acid and muscle damage by-product elimination.

My favorite long workout fuel.

If your goal is to gain weight, muscle and fuel your workouts:

Pre-workout nutrition:

Same as above

During the workout:

Water and workout nutrition.

If you’re doing a serious weight lifting or strengthening session that lasts over an hour.  Then you’ll want an amino acid, electrolyte, protein mix drink to sip throughout your workout.  These tend to be slower to digest, but makes the mix available for immediate use as your muscles get depleted and aid in repair earlier in the process decreasing muscles soreness later in the day and preparing you for tomorrow’s workout.  This will also increase your calorie load allowing your to put on muscle mass in a healthy fashion.

Post-workout nutrition:

To gain weight and to promote muscle growth, you’ll want to increase your protein consumption to 2 servings, but still include your carbs with this meal as in the tip above.  Try to keep your carbs more to the potato, carrot or vegetable variety, but if you were going to splurge on grains, this is when you would do it.

Better than orange juice for a morning wake up

Better than orange juice for a morning wake up

And that’s it in a nutshell!

Good workout nutrition starts with looking mainly at the duration of your workout!  

Under 1 hour: water and refuel within an hour of your workout with a healthy mix of carbs and protein

Over 1 hour: water, replenish your glucose stores during exercise (simple sugars for endurance cardio & protein/electrolyte mix for those doing strength & building muscle), then refuel within an hour of your workout

For most of us, and those of us participating in the Run3seams 5K, no special nutritional needs are required, except water and to refuel with a healthy balanced meal afterward.

So the next time you’re at the store and you pass by all those fancy meal replacement, energy drinks or sports enhancement products, you can pass them by and save your money to spend it on REAL food and REAL nutrition!

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