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What to Eat Before and After You Go to the Gym

Fitness begins at the kitchen.
What to Eat Before and After You Go to the Gym Fitness begins at the kitchen.

Working out helps banish stress, boost brainpower, and burn off calories. However, all those hard work go down the drain if you don’t keep an eye on what you eat.

“Eating as much as you want, knowing that you’re going to work out, is very risky, especially if you’re trying to lose weight,” says weight management coach Armand Mendoza, P.T.R.P. “If you’re unaware of the specific calories you devour, you’ll be farther from your goal because you can’t create the calorie deficit per day needed to reduce body fat.”

Remember this: Food isn’t the enemy. Make better choices, pick the right portions, and your muscles will thank you for helping their growth. Follow these rules and recover faster from each gym session.

Prep Begins at Home

 Have a small meal one to two hours before pumping some iron to load up on energy for your training.

“Consume around 20 to 30 grams of complex carbohydrates like bread, crackers, cereal, granola, or oats,” Mendoza says. Carbs provide a steady boost that can help you sustain your workout intensity, as well.

Feed Your Muscles Right Away

After a grueling exercise session, your metabolism is high—meaning, you can burn calories faster and absorb nutrients from food better. You should eat within an hour after your workout to maximize the absorption rate.

Your meal should focus on two essential groups: (1) amino acids that come from animal protein to help build muscle, and (2) electrolytes from fruits and vegetables for hydration and repair.

Here, a simple breakdown of your recovery menu:

1 to 2 servings of vegetables
1/2 cup grains
1 to 1.5 servings of lean meat, fish, or poultry (remember, one serving is the size of a playing card)
A fruit (fist-sized)
1-3 glasses of water

Eat to Recover

Your body will continue to build and repair muscles hours after your workout. To ensure that you aid this process, your succeeding meals should always include protein and calcium-rich foods like milk, meat, fish, and poultry.


Whether you’re trying to add bulk or lose flab, eating right is an essential element in building lean muscle mass.


This story originally appeared on

Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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