The Best Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks: A Nutritionist's Tips

(Source: Katie Cavuto, ThinkStock)Embarking on a new fitness regime for spring? If you're going to be working out more and shocking your body into submission, you're going to need to change the way you eat. It's true, fueling your active body with enough calories, and at regular intervals, is necessary in order to help you sustain and benefit from a sudden increase in activity. We asked registered dietician and chef Katie Cavuto (who cooks for pro athletes including members of the Phillies, Flyers and Eagles, and was one of ten finalists on season five of The Next Food Network Star) for her tips on eating right when working out––including ideas for pre- and post-workout snacks.

1) Eat Breakfast
"The importance of eating breakfast is well known, yet many people wake up and head straight to a workout on an empty stomach. It’s hard to maximize your workout if you start with an empty fuel tank. Eating a full meal is often too much to digest before early morning exercise. The solution is eating a small, easily digestible snack like a banana, a handful of grapes or a simple smoothie. Skip foods that are high in protein or fat as they can slow down digestion and leave you feeling crampy and sluggish."

2) Appropriately Fuel Your Workout
"Eating for a marathon is very different then fueling your body for an hour or so of exercise. Choose a 100 to 200 calorie snack comprised of energy-producing carbohydrates and small amounts of lean protein and healthy fat to help sustain energy. Give yourself at least an hour to digest your meal to avoid an upset stomach or cramping. Dairy can be difficult to digest so it might be a good idea to avoid that before a workout."

3) Hydrate Naturally
"Sports drinks are flavorful but they can be loaded with artificial ingredients and unwanted calories. Water is really your best bet when it comes to healthy hydration. Make sure to drink water before, during and after your workout as good hydration can help prevent fatigue. You can also add a flavorful non-GMO water enhancer like Stur to your water. Coconut water is another good option for flavorful hydration. Lower in calories than most sports drinks, coconut water naturally contains potassium, which can help replenish electrolytes lost during exercise. Choose coconut water that is not from concentrate and is low in added sugars—and remember it contains calories, so consume in moderation."

(Source: Thinkstock)4) Recover
"After a workout, your body needs more than protein. Yes, protein—10 to 20 grams—will help repair muscles, but you need carbohydrates to replenish your energy stores as well. A 4 to 1 ratio of healthy carbohydrates to protein is ideal for recovery. Have your post workout snack within 30 minutes of finishing to maximize results. Aim for around 200 calories."

Katie's pre-workout snack ideas:
- Low-fat, low-sugar granola bar like KIND Healthy Grains Granola Bars
- An apple or banana with 1 tbsp of peanut butter or almond butter
- A packet of oatmeal with 1 tbsp of seeds
- A smoothie
- Bowl of whole grain, low sugar cereal (one cup) with one tablespoon of walnuts or some berries and unsweetened coconut milk.

Katie's post-workout snack ideas:  
- 8 ounces of chocolate milk (the perfect 4:1 ratio of carb to protein)
- Half a turkey or peanut butter sandwich
- Plain Greek yogurt with berries and one tablespoon honey
- One or two rice cakes with one tbsp of almond butter and half a banana
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