Eating Before and After Excercise – Tips from Dietitian Ashley Koff |

Eating Before and After Excercise – Tips from Dietitian Ashley Koff

We go together like rama-lama-lama, ka-dinga-da-dingy-dong.

You’ve experimented with wine pairings, chocolate pairings and more. But when it comes to your exercise, your activity of choice should be paired with the right foods for optimal energy, digestion, calorie burn and fat loss.

Hot Yoga

Hot yoga – or even an intense vinyasa class – will cause you to sweat water and toxins while opening the body and stimulating digestive function. Therefore, pre-yoga isn’t the time to load up your stomach.

Before: About 2.5 hours before class, have a coconut water smoothie with rice protein powder, essential fatty acid oil and some organic greens. Nutrient-balanced snacks will give you the fuel you need but prevent digestive distress during class. Coconut water (rich in potassium) will ensure you’re hydrated going into class, too.

After: Drink plenty of water and eat some whole-grain or sprouted-grain crackers with guacamole (also rich in potassium) to replenish electrolytes.


Yes, classes are remniscient of army training – where you keep going ’til you lose your lunch. But we’d prefer you keep your nutrients.

Before: Eating about 2-3 hours before is mandatory. The body needs carbohydrates for quick energy (you’ll thank me when it’s time for that 3rd round of burpees) and protein for muscles. The anti-inflammatory power of these fats are an added “morning after” bonus. Try whole-grain stir fry with wild rice or Kamut and your favorite veggies (aim for at least two colors). Add dried ginger and toss on hemp seeds after cooking.

After: Toss together a salad with sprouted beans and make a dressing from mashed avocado and salsa. This fuel will replenish what was lost and give your body energy to tackle the next few hours.


Whether it’s a few quick laps or an hour of intense training, the body exerts tremendous energy while swimming. While you want to pack in the nutrients pre-swim, you don’t want to sink to the bottom.

Before: Eat 2-3 hours before and include hearty carbs like butternut squash soup, buckwheat, oats or millet. Top it with nuts and seeds for sustaining proteins and fats.

After: Sip on a coconut water for hydration. Have a warming bowl of steamed vegetables with tempeh (skip the soy sauce and extra sodium) and opt for sesame, olive, walnut, flax or hemp seed oils.


Hiking is one of the best ways to see the big, wide world and get your workout in. The right fuel will make a big difference in terms of your energy, but also will help with that annoying need to “go” when you’re at the top of a mountain and there’s no potty in sight.

Before: Hydrate a bit with H2O, but skip your pre-trail coffee unless you have timed it and know your body’s post-coffee response extremely well. Before you hike, start with a banana-peanut butter sandwich. The banana will help hydrate (potassium) but it’s also a little constipating – which is desirable mid-hike. If you need some extra zing, add some cacao nibs to an organic cereal with other nuts and seeds for a homemade hiker’s trail mix

After: Drink more water and enjoy your trail mix remains atop some berries or fruit. You can also try a lentil soup with veggie sausages and greens.

Interval Running

Running is great for you, but according to numerous trainers, interval running is where it’s at. To prepare your muscles and mind for this workout, your body needs to be fueled up. You may do better eating closer to the time of exercise.

Before: Have a leftover slice of (vegan) pizza or half a sandwich? This could be the perfect pre-run fuel. Coffee or caffeinated beverages can work too (hemp latte, anyone?) but be sure it won’t require a bathroom break. And if you have coffee, make sure you still have something to eat – a piece of fruit, an organic fruit leather or an organic protein bar (we like Pure bars).

After: Have a nutrient-balanced and hydrating snack like a burrito: corn tortilla (non-GMO, please), sautéed onions and greens, Daiya cheese, guacamole and hot sauce. Pair it with a large glass of water with lemon or herbal iced tea.

What’s your favorite food and fitness pairing? Leave us your feedback in the comments section below and Ashley will tweet her faves this week!

Posted on: January 9, 2012