What to Eat Before and After Workouts to Lose Weight

You work hard during your exercise sessions to burn calories and tone your body. The foods you eat before and after this exercise session should further enhance your weight loss, give you energy and refrain from leaving you feeling deprived. Just as important as eating the right foods is eating the right amount -- this helps keep you from feeling too full or nauseous pre- or post-workout.

Benefits

Eating the right foods before and after your workout can benefit you in a number of ways. Eating before working out can prevent your blood sugar from dropping when you begin working out; settles the stomach; reduces hunger; and gives your muscles the energy needed to exercise, according to Go Ask Alice, a resource for Columbia University students. Eating after exercising and drinking plenty of fluid can help to replace glycogen that is lost during exercise, according to a report from the American College of Sports Medicine. Glycogen is comprised of sugars that come from protein and carbohydrates in your diet.

Time Frame

Eating too much before an exercise session can cause you to feel sick to your stomach or could slow your workout down. You should wait at least three hours and one to two hours after a snack, according to the American Council on Exercise. The time span is less for eating after exercising -- a small snack 15 to 60 minutes after exercise is suitable, according to Go Ask Alice.

Pre-Exercise

Eating before a workout can give you enough energy to power through a tough exercise session. Snacks before a workout should be high in carbohydrates -- which give you energy -- combined with a moderate amount of protein. ESPN.com recommends pairing a banana with yogurt; juice and pretzels; fig bars and milk; or a bagel with jelly. Consuming this snack two hours before exercise can help to give you the appropriate energy.

Post-Workout

Good post-workout carbohydrate choices include whole-wheat breads and pastas; fruit; vegetables and brown rice. These are low in fat and calories and can help with your weight-loss efforts. Lean protein sources also are important. Choices include skinless chicken, fish, low-fat dairy products, soy and nuts. Because you are trying to lose weight, refrain from fatty cuts of red meat, which are high in fat, sodium and cholesterol and do not contribute to weight loss.

Considerations

Some people may find it difficult to eat a snack before or after exercising because they are unaccustomed to snacking. This can be especially true of a person who does not typically eat breakfast, yet exercises in the morning. In these instances, it's best to begin by eating something small. A few crackers, half a banana or another small snack can be a good way to begin, according to Nancy Clark, a registered dietitian and author, in an interview for Taste of Home magazine.