Fueling Your Body: What and When to Eat to Maximize Your Workouts

by Franklin Athletic Club

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When you pull up to a fuel station in your car, you know what fuel to select to get the desired performance out of your vehicle. You know that food is your body’s fuel. So why is it so hard and confusing to fuel our bodies to get their desired performance, especially for a workout?

There is certainly lots of information available. And it’s not always consistent. That’s why Franklin Athletic Club is pleased to provide you an easy-to-understand guide to fueling your body and your workout. (Please note, if you are undertaking a long or strenuous workout such as a marathon or triathlon, consult a sports nutritionist.)

Pre-Workout: Simple Carbs are Best

Simple carbohydrates are easy and fast for the body to digest. This means you won’t feel weighed down or sluggish during your workout because your body is exerting its energy on digestion. It also means that fuel you put in is available for use as energy. Simple carbs should be consumed 30-90 minutes before a workout. Great pre-workout options include:

  • Low-fiber fruits such as bananas, applesauce or berries
  • Rice cake or toast with fruit preserves
  • Fruit purees
  • Oatmeal with minimal toppings
  • Low-fat yogurt

During Your Workout: Do You Need Fuel?

As a general rule, if you’re working out for an hour or less, you probably don’t actually need additional calories. When you’re setting new PRs on weights, crushing your favorite cardio machine or owning the group fitness class you’re taking, water alone is adequate.

If you’re an elite endurance or performance athlete, your workout may require a bit more. Something easily consumed and digested, such as a fitness gel, could give you the boost needed.

Post-Workout: Protein, Carbs, Electrolytes

You finished your workout and are ready to replenish what you’ve spent and provide your body the necessary nutrition to see gains from your workout. Post-workout is a great time to fuel up. Your body is already turned on and ready to absorb and utilize nutrients.

  • Protein. Post-workout is the best time to eat protein to fuel the repair of the muscles you’ve worked to increase strength. (Note: eating protein is not necessarily going to make you get “bulky.”)
  • Carbs. The primary source of energy for your muscles during your exercise is carbs. Now is the time to put healthy carbs back into your body and restore what you’ve spent. Carbs also help facilitate the absorption of other nutrients. Choose healthy carbs for your refueling.
  • Electrolytes. When you workout, you sweat. When you sweat, you potentially lose nutrients like sodium, potassium, magnesium and other electrolytes. Having a proper balance of electrolytes in your body is important for many essential processes. It’s important to replace and rebalance your electrolytes. While you can use a sports drink to get electrolytes, you may also be getting other things you don’t need or want. Electrolytes can be replenished from food or 100% fruit juices, such as orange juice.


Before, during and after your workout, be sure to hydrate. Drinking plenty of water, even in small, frequent sips, keeps your body healthy and happy during your workout. Need more info on fueling your workout or other fitness needs? Reach out to Franklin Athletic Club at 615-599-5544 for more information on your road to wellness.

Franklin Athletic Club
112 Rand Place
Franklin, TN 37064
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