Timing of Meals and Snacks for Athletes

Timing Your Nutrition

What you put into your body before, during, and after exercise can help you train longer and perform better. The right food at the right time also helps to decrease your risk of injury, improve your strength, and help you recover more quickly. Get the timing right to optimize these benefits.

Eating Before Activity

The most important factor in pre-exercise nutrition is giving your body enough time to digest. Meals should be consumed one to four hours before exercise. Snacks that are high in simple carbohydrates can be consumed 30-60 minutes prior to exercise if your body tolerates it. Avoid high fat food within four hours before exercise. Hydrate before exercise to optimize performance.

Eating During Activity

Ideally, you have prepared your body well enough that you can last your entire activity without the need to refuel. However, if activity exceeds 60-90 minutes, you may need an extra boost during the session. Consider simple carbohydrate-rich foods like a banana or a sport drink to help keep you moving, while avoiding digestive discomfort. Hydrate throughout your entire exercise.

Eating After Activity

Grab a snack that contains protein and carbohydrate within 30 minutes after exercise. Consumption of 15-30 grams of protein with-in a couple of hours after exercise leads to increased muscle synthesis. Replenishing carbohydrates restores glycogen stores and helps avoid the need to burn muscle protein for fuel. Eat protein, carbohydrates, and fats throughout the day. Remember to rehydrate immediately after exercise.

Quick Tips

Eat foods before and after exercise that are high in carbohydrates and in protein.

Experiment to see what foods, drinks, and timing strategies work best for you.

Fueling your body for exercise is not just important right before an event! Eat right all the time and your body will thank you when it comes time to perform.