What you eat before and after exercise matters a lot if you expect to see (and feel) results. To properly fuel up beforehand, your main focus should be energizing carbohydrates. To recover, refuel and repair muscles after you hit the gym, your main focus should be on healthy, protein-rich foods that also include a solid dose of carbs to replenish your energy stores again.


To make your planning a little easier, we asked a few nutritionists—Joy Bauer, nutritionist and founder of Nourish Snacks; Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D., YouBeauty Nutrition Advisor; Heather Bauer, nutritionist and founder of diet and nutrition counseling center Nu-Train; and Leah Kaufman, R.D.—to recommend some specific snacks that get the job done in both scenarios. Some are pretty simple, while others add a flavorful twist on healthy snacks. Use their recommendations as a guide, and choose your favorites from your go-to brands—or whip up their quick and delicious recipes for a new snack staple.
Before a workout:
  • 1 single serving pack of dried fruit
  • 1 fruit-flavored Greek yogurt (look for one that has 20 grams of sugar or less)
  • Skim latte (12 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 bag of apple chips
  • 1 bag of popcorn
  • Yogurt parfait: 1/4 cup of granola, low-fat vanilla yogurt, 1 cup of berries
  • 2 rice cakes with 1 Tbsp almond butter and 1 tsp honey
  • Oatmeal with apricots
  • Fruit smoothie with fat-free Greek Yogurt and a mixture of your favorite berries or other in-season fruit
  • Hummus and pita chips
  • Apple slices with Maple-Cinnamon Peanut Butter Dip
Post Workout:
  • 1 protein bar with 10 or more grams of protein
  • 100 calories worth of pistachios (about 28 nuts) and a piece of fruit
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese with 1 tsp cinnamon and vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 6 oz low-fat Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1/2 cup of berries
  • Protein smoothie: 1.5 cups almond or soy milk, 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1 banana
  • Supercharged smoothie
  • 1 glass of low-fat chocolate milk
  • 1 hard-boiled egg and a handful of mixed nuts
  • 2 rice cakes with 1/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese, tomato slices
  • Turkey-Pepper Roll-ups: wrap sliced turkey around a few bell pepper sticks
  • Chocolate protein pudding