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Fit Tip of the Month - MEAL TIMING: What and When to Eat for Performance and Recovery

Pre Workout:

The point of eating before a workout is to fuel your body with the right nutrients to give you the energy and strength you need to complete a workout. But the timing of certain meals may help you be able to perform and recover better. The most important thing to remember when choosing your meal before a workout is to think of how long you have to digest your foods. The sooner you eat before your workout, the smaller and simpler the meal should be. So if you eat 45–60 minutes prior to your workout, choose foods that are simple to digest and contain mainly carbs and some protein. If you eat fat with your pre-workout meal, then it should be consumed at least a few hours before your workout.

Here are somethings to eat based on the timing of your workout.

If your workout starts in an hour:

A piece of fruit

A Nutirition Bar

Greek Yogurt with Granola

If your workout starts within two hours:

A cup of oatmeal topped with banana and sliced almonds

Whole grain toast topped with Jam

A fruit Smoothie


If your workout starts with in 3+ hours:


Egg omelet, whole grain toast topped with avocado spread and a cup of fruit

Lean protein, brown rice and roasted vegetables

A light Sandwich with whole grain bread and a small side salad


Post Workout:

The goal of the post-workout meal is to help you recover, rehydrate, refuel, build muscle and improve future performance. Many sports nutrition experts refer to the post-workout “anabolic window of opportunity” when discussing your fuel needs. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout. Doing this helps your body decrease muscle protein breakdown, increase muscle protein synthesis, restore glycogen stores, and enhance recovery. For a post-workout meal, aim for 15-25 grams of protein (for tissue repair) and 1-2 grams/kg (of body weight) of carbohydrates, and 5-10 grams of fat. Although the timing does not need to be exact, many experts recommend eating your post-workout meal within 45 minutes.

In Between/ Throughout the Day:

Water, water, water… Oh, and did I mention water?! Hydration is one of the most important things to maintain while training that many people often forget about. Whether you are working out or not, it’s important that you stay hydrated all day long. Being dehydrated deprives your body of water and can impair your athletic performance. Also, if you are properly hydrated, you shouldn’t feel the need to chug water right before or during your workout.  If you do drink too much fluid before physical activity, it may cause bloating and cramping. For this reason, you should be keeping your body hydrated every chance you get, even on rest days.


What foods you consume on your rest days are just as important as the foods you consume on the days you work out. On your rest days, your body is recovering and replenishing its fuel stores so that the muscles can function with optimal performance during the next workout. Be sure to get the correct nutrients just like you would if you were training that day. Don’t forget your cheat meal, because those are important too! J





Sources/Contributors: ACE Fitness Nutrition, Tiffani Bachus, R.D.N., and Erin Macdonald, R.D.N 


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