The Best Foods to Fuel Your Workout: One Expert Shares Her Secrets

August 29, 2017

Ever strive to exercise, but not sure what, how or when to eat? As a registered dietitian at Indiana University Health, I work with bariatric patients to help them lose weight in preparation for surgery. In addition to being followed by a team, patients also receive individualized nutrition counseling post-operatively. We work together to identify barriers and solutions throughout their weight loss journey, which often includes exercise

In addition to my role as a dietitian, I also help people reach their health and fitness goals as a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. I love being able to help people integrate nutrition, fitness, and wellness to eat better, move better, and feel better doing it.

Wondering where to start? Try these tips to fuel your next workout.

  • Early Morning Workouts: If you like to start your day with a sweat, try something small that is easy to digest, such as half of an English muffin, a small granola bar, or half of a banana. This will give you enough energy without making you feel uncomfortable. Refuel post workout with a larger breakfast, choosing a combination of both carbohydrates and protein. This may include a veggie and turkey omelet, Greek yogurt with berries, or oatmeal and the other half of your banana.
  • Mid-Day and Evening Workouts: Similar to your morning workouts, fuel up with a quick snack one to three hours before your exercise session. Trail mix or fruit may be just enough to get you through your workout until you can refuel at the next meal. If you’re not exercising until later, eat a larger lunch three to four hours prior. This may include a salad with grilled chicken or a turkey sandwich with carrots.
  • Hydration: Water is best, but if you are exercising more than an hour, consider a sports drink or something with sodium and electrolytes to keep you hydrated in the heat without the empty calories.
  • Refueling Your Workout: If your next meal is not within the next hour or two post-workout, try to consume something light. This may be 6 to 8 ounces of chocolate milk, low-fat Greek yogurt, or string cheese and crackers.

For more tips on sports nutrition visit

-- By Katie Hake, RD
Indiana University Health

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