Fuel Your Workout + Recovery with Good Nutrition


They don’t say you are what you eat for nothing – and ultimately, what you eat and the nutrients you get, both act as the foundation for your body to heal, grow and regenerate constantly.

And equally important to nutrition is the body’s need for movement, healthy physical stress, and exercise.

Exercise in all shapes and forms works to pump the heart, work the muscles and fill the lungs, fueling the body’s ability to create cellular turnover strengthen your muscles, bones, and brain health.

The 80/20 Rule for Health

Working towards optimal health isn’t a one size fits all approach and, in general, can be thought of with the 80/20 rule:

  • 80% nutrition 20% exercise
  • 80% whole foods and veggies 20% canned or packaged goods
  • 80% eating clean 20% indulgence

That 80% foundational nutrition, inclusive of a variety of micro and macronutrients, fuels the body with the optimal level of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants necessary for the body to repair continually.

In fact, recent changes to nutritional food guidelines suggest filling 50% of your plate with fresh greens and vegetables first, then balancing rich proteins with healthy carbohydrates to create the optimal nutrition for a healthy, happy body.

Key Nutrients for the Body

Overall nutrition is categorized into macro and micronutrients:

  • Macros: Fats, Carbohydrates, Proteins – needed in larger amounts by the body and are used to fuel muscles, tissues, and organs and for healing and repair
  • Micronutrients: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals – used by the body in smaller amounts and are critical for energy production, immune health, and cognitive function

For the purposes of health and vitality, the body needs to be nourished with a balance of both micro and macronutrients.

For the purposes of exercise, we focus more on the big three: the macros.

What to Eat Before Exercising

For nutrition that will fuel your workout, eating 3 hours beforehand can help to sustain energy, boost your performance, preserve muscle tissue and accelerate your post-recovery and should focus on complex carbohydrates and protein:


Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy, providing glucose (a form of sugar) to fuel your muscles and stamina. When glucose isn’t immediately used by the body, it is converted into glycogen and stored in the liver and muscles until it is needed leading to extra weight.

Eating easily digestible, complex carbohydrates immediately before a workout gives your body a source of fuel without the risk of being stored in the body as fat. Spreading carbohydrates out evenly throughout the day will help to keep energy and blood sugar stable throughout the day, but always plan for a healthy source around the time of your workout.

Suggestion: sweet potato, oatmeal, quinoa, green smoothie


Protein is made up of amino acids, which act as the foundation for all tissue health and cellular repair. Ensuring the body has enough digestible protein before exercise helps provide the body with the key nutrients it needs to build and recover those muscle tissues immediately following with both essential and nonessential amino acids.

Adequate protein will also help to preserve that muscle mass while the body burns through its stored glycogen and fat for fuel. Amino acids from protein also accelerate muscle building, helping to strengthen your core and optimize your workouts.

Suggestions: greek yogurt, eggs, tofu, almonds

What to Eat Post Exercise

Each of the three macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, plays an equally important role in your body’s pre and post-workout recovery process.

Post-workout nutrition should aim to replace lost fats, nutrients, vitamins, and fluids with a focus on recovery, muscle repair, hydration, and refueling cells – ideally within 30 minutes of finishing:


Straining and stressing your muscles triggers the breakdown of muscle proteins. In order to preserve muscle mass and immediately encourage muscle repair, the body needs optimal levels of protein to support.

Rich sources of protein help to prevent the breakdown of muscle and help stimulate protein synthesis over time. Whether before or after your workout, protein is vital to recovery with one study concluding that whether pre-or post-workout, protein has a similar effect on muscle strength, hypertrophy, and body composition changes overall.

Studies have shown that ingesting 20–40 grams of protein will optimize the body’s ability to recover after a workout.

Suggestions: tempeh, chicken, eggs, Greek yogurt


Contrary to popular belief, fats are actually a great source of fuel for muscle recovery and repair post-workout.

In fact, research from the Washington University School of Medicine reports that supplementing omega-3 fatty acids post-workout helps to increase muscle protein synthesis and to increase the size and strength of muscle cells overall.

Rich fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna are a great source of omega 3s and also provide the body with powerful anti-inflammatory properties to further support the body to heal, repair, and reduce damage. Research from 2016 found that just 6-7grams of clean, organic fish oil per day resulted in lowered muscle soreness and inflammation long term.

Need any ideas for post-recovery nutrition? Talk to our trainers today or stop by the Optimum Eats food stand to refuel up.