We asked some of the top fitness experts and models to tell us how they fuel for their workouts.
"If you want energy and function for a workout that will affect your body, then you should look to have something easily digested about 45 minutes prior to your session. Avoid anything very high in fiber that might cause GI discomfort, but 200-300 calories of simple carbohydrates and a little healthy fat is a solid starting point. A good example could be a simple fruit smoothie (preferably berries pre-workout for the excess of electrolytes) with 1 cup of almond milk and ice. During your workout, it is extremely important for your body to keep a certain level of hydration for muscle function. This will have a huge impact on how long you can workout for at a desired intensity. Lastly, you could be on the greatest training program ever, but if you are not giving your body the right materials to rebuild then you might as well be a couch potato and save the energy. You should be focused on getting something healthy into your body within 30 minutes of completing a workout session, my recommendation is a healthy meal of carbs and proteins at a ratio of 3 carbs:1 protein. One of my favorites is a low-fat chocolate milk and Greek yogurt. That gives me about 42 grams of carbs to replenish the energy I used and about 15 grams of protein to capture that muscle repair process right away. Your next meal can be in about 90-120 minutes of balanced carbs, protein, and fats."
MS, RD and coach at Brick New York
"You have to be thinking about hydrating throughout the day and not just before or during your workout. Muscles contain a lot of water, and if we don't stay well hydrated they don't function optimally. So instead of being strong and fast, you end up being weak and slow. A lot of pre-workout nutrition is individual, but ideally, about 30 minutes before you work out, you want to have some carbohydrates and protein. Because you don't want the food sitting in your stomach and want the food to be quickly digested, it should be something low in fiber and fat. Fruit and protein powder blended together works well. Egg whites and mashed sweet potato can work too. If you need to have less digestion, 1/2 cup of juice and protein powder might work better. Post workout is the best time to have carbohydrates because your muscles suck those nutrients right up. It's also acceptable to have some fat at this time. Depending on how much you sweat, electrolytes can be more or less important. If you work out like a beast and you sweat like crazy, you need to make sure you get enough sodium and potassium in your diet. I tell my sweaty athletes to salt their food. Great sources of potassium are coconut water, bananas, potatoes, tomatoes and oranges."
Founder of Bassett Bootcamp and instructor at Pure Yoga
"What and when you eat before and after a workout plays an important role in how your body looks, feel and functions. It's similar to a car. You want to fuel your car with premium gasoline vs. diesel fuel so it will function effectively and efficiently. My go-to pre-workout meal is an egg white veggie omelet with avocado and a piece of 7-grain toast. It's a well-balanced, healthy meal combining carbohydrates, protein and fat. Ideally, you want to eat an hour to two hours before a workout, so it has time to digest. If you eat within an hour, a banana and yogurt is a lighter version of the carb, protein, fat combo. Post workout, I have a delicious carb-and-protein shake called the Protein Buzz from Juice Generation. It's filling and has the nutrients you need that absorb in your bloodstream more quickly than solid foods. Eating within 30 minutes after your workout is ideal because it helps to refuel and rebuild muscle."
Founder of AKT in Motion
“About 1.5 hours before my workout, I get Juice Generation’s Protein Buzz. It gives me the protein to keep up for 2 hours while being easy to digest and revving up my energy pre-workout. Post workout, within 45 minutes, I fuel with Health Warrior Chia Bars. They’re a nice combo of protein and carbs for muscle recovery, plus they have added omegas, which are low in calories, and they’re the perfect size for travel!"
Instructor at Physique 57
"When I have a long day of teaching and taking class at Physique 57, I start with a hearty bowl of oatmeal and fruit. Before my shift, I make sure I drink at least 8 oz. of water. Sometimes, I get a bottle of coconut water to hydrate my muscles and prevent cramping. Almonds and cranberries really work as a pick-me-up in between classes. It's the right balance of sweet and salty for my taste buds, also protein and antioxidants for my active day. I love sweet potatoes! They're great on their own, but I love having them as a side with chicken and kale for dinner. I top it off with decaf tea and a bit of dark chocolate. If it's been a long day of classes maybe a little more than a bit, but that's alright!"
COO at Barry's Bootcamp
"I actually try not to eat too soon before a workout, especially if there's cardio involved. After the workout I always order a shake from the Fuel Bar at Barry's Bootcamp. I get one with protein, creatine (because it helps add bulk) and L Glutamine (which aids in muscle reparation and helps you avoid soreness)."
"I fuel for my workouts with lean meats, fish, veggies, some fruit, tree nuts and seeds, little starch and no sugar. I try to stay away from processed foods – basically anything that is on the shelves and can stay there for a long time without going bad. I like my food fresh! Pre workout, I’m thinking about being hydrated and have just enough fuel in my body to do well in that day’s workout. Post workout, I think about refueling my body enough for the next workout and I always get between 8-10 hours of sleep."
Chef and partner at Crown Group Hospitality
"My workout regimen is a mixture of Iyengar yoga three days a week and weights and cardio two days. I try to take the weekend off. My pre workout regimen is a double espresso with a shot of hot water since I work out in the morning."
Founder of Peace Love World
"I like to begin my day off bright and early by waking up at 6:20 a.m. Before starting my workout, I have a small protein shake and coffee to get my metabolism going. Doing the same workout every day gets very monotonous, so on Mondays and Fridays I do Pilates, Tuesdays and Thursdays I lift light weights, and Saturday I enjoy boxing. Eating the right foods throughout the day is really important, so I like to snack on fresh greens as well as have a lentil soup or a veggie wrap for lunch. Around 7 p.m., I eat either sushi or fish for dinner and right before bed I let myself indulge a little with a spoonful of Haagen-Dazs ice cream. Scented candles, relaxing music and fresh flowers are great accents to create a tranquil environment in your home when you need to de-stress. That is a definite must in keeping your mind and body healthy and well rested."
"My diet is usually a protein shake for breakfast, green vegetables for lunch with quinoa or brown rice and for dinner I either have another protein shake or more vegetables, maybe eggplant or butternut with a fish or chicken or brown rice or quinoa. I never eat before I work out because I exercise first thing in the morning. Post workout, I have my protein shake for breakfast."
“I always fuel with Vega Sport Sugar-Free Energizer. It has all the energizing components without the unwanted extra carbs. The caffeine in Energizer doesn’t just boost energy, it also enhances mental focus, which is great for shorter workouts, yoga classes or Pilates. I mix Vega Sport Sugar-Free Energizer with water 20 minutes before my workout.”
"I try to do my cardio first thing in the morning with nothing more than a coffee or sports drink in my stomach. It helps kickstart my day and heart rate for the rest of the day, increasing my overall calorie burn. After my workout, I have a juice and some protein – like fat free Greek yogurt with nuts and a small amount of honey. A green juice is always helpful to balance the PH level in the body and restore other missing nutrients. When I’m weight training I have a protein shake after."
"I wake up and have a bowl of steel cut oats with honey, fresh fruit and a cup of Iced matcha tea before I go on a run with Roscoe, my Rhodesian Ridgeback."
Instructor at SoulCycle
"Pre SoulCycle I will have an energy bar of some sort. I tend to bring protein powder with me to class, so afterwards I just add water and I am ready to go on with my day. Protein powder is your friend! And that goes for both men and women! Ladies pay attention!!!! And just like with energy bars, make sure you look at what is in the protein powder of your choice."
“I lead a healthy lifestyle by consuming a vegan diet. For breakfast I have a 52 oz. green smoothie. I start the day out light and work into a heavier dinner consisting of greens, super grains (amaranth, couscous, millet and quinoa) and a variety of nuts and vegetables. I will eat within an hour before heading off to the gym. Avocados, nuts, complex carbs and other foods that will help sustain a 60-90 minute session for me. After my workout, I eat a variety of greens, different colored vegetables, super grains and nuts. Both Spirulina and Chlorella are extremely high in protein. All the food listed will digest efficiently in our bodies unlike meats and dairy. 80% of fatigue throughout the day is caused by digestion and meat can take up to 48 hours to digest!"
Celebrity trainer and co-founder of Exceed Physical Culture, NYC
"No raw fruits or vegetables before the workout. These kinds of foods cause you to bloat very quickly after consumption, causing potential discomfort. Instead, opt for “neutral food” that is high in protein, such as scrambled eggs and avocado, boiled potato and chicken. Stay away from anything too acidic or spicy, as well. Post workout, I have a protein-based meal. I prefer vegetable protein or very lean protein sources like turkey, chicken, salmon and cold water fish."
Founder of Mark Fisher Fitness
"I like to keep it simple. Some protein before with maybe a piece of fruit and some protein and some carbs after. That said, research has consistently shown the most important factor in any fitness goal is the overall nutritional intake. So to maximize your workouts, make sure to consistently eat a variety of protein, veggies, fruits and healthy fats."
Trainer at Equinox South Beach
“When it comes to nutrition, I am serious about two things: nutrient timing and incredible flavor. Oatmeal, tuna, peanut butter and cinnamon…the perfect blend of protein, carbohydrates and fat to fuel your workouts. This simple, convenient and taste bud satisfying pre-workout meal will be sure to take your training to the next level. Rules: 1) Consume 1-2 hours prior to exercise, 2) Don't eat with your eyes - try it before you say you don't like it 3) Be amazed! Food Philosophy: If you like two foods (even if society believes they should not go together), mix them together — you will be surprised how it tastes two times better!"
"Pre workout, I usually eat a lot of energizing foods like fruits and nuts plus a high calorie shake. I’m weird because I prefer to work out with food in my stomach. I’ll even eat a piece of chocolate to get me going. Post workout, I’ll eat hearty vegetables with quinoa and usually a nice piece of fish, chicken or steak. Then, I drink a lighter, high protein shake within an hour after my workout."
Instructor at Body Space Fitness
"Try to stay away from sports drinks or sugary drinks before your workouts. You don’t want to spike your blood sugar and insulin levels prior to working out. One of my pre-workout snacks is an apple with almond butter. It is the perfect mix of carbs and protein. If you are on the go, I also recommend grabbing a Kind Bar with protein or a Quest Bar. After your workout is the best time to have carbohydrates. I prefer a wrap with grilled chicken (for protein), vegetables and a sweet potato. Protein shakes are also a great option if you are on the go as they are a great source of carbohydrates and protein."
DO, CSN, PT at Club Essentia at the Delano South Beach
"By providing 100% absorption of specific vitamins, minerals and amino acids, a Fitness IV Infusion, which we offer here at Club Essentia, increases the bodies ability to create energy, burn fat, build muscle and detoxify the physiological stress seen with exercising allowing for maximum gains and decreased recover time. The perfect way to help fuel for a workout regimen!"