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Foods to Eat Before and After Your Workout

Keep your endurance levels up and recover faster with the right fuel

Energy bar, Fuel Your Workouts

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Try an energy bar if you're looking for a boost before you workout.

En español | Does a low energy level have you skipping workouts, especially during these dog days of summer? The problem might not be the heat so much as what you're feeding — or not feeding — your body before and after an exercise session.

Hydration is key, of course. "When it comes to active 50-plus adults, I recommend 8 to 16 ounces of water for every 20 minutes of exercise," says nutritionist Robert Ferguson, who serves on the National Medical Association President's Task Force on Obesity and is CEO of Diet Free Life.

A small snack about 30 minutes before exercise — and a fat-burning meal within an hour of your sweat session — is also important to maintain energy. Try these expert-approved suggestions.

Cup of Coffee, Fuel Your Workouts

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A cup of coffee can give you that energy boost you need before a workout.

Pre-Workout

1. Coffee: One cup of joe can increase your endurance, which is just what you need to get through that strength-training class or an extra-long walk. Studies show that in moderate amounts, it can help prevent stroke and lower the risk of some cancers.

2. Tea with honey: Not a coffee drinker? Add a tablespoon of honey to a cup of caffeinated tea to help fuel your workout.

3. Carrot juice: High in glucose, 8-12 ounces will keep you energized, and studies show carrots fight osteoporosis, too.

4. Energy bar: The variety is endless, but try one sweetened with cane sugar.

5. Small banana: This popular choice is high in glucose, which helps with brain function as well as energy.

Post-Workout

Make sure your post-workout meal includes a protein, carbs and veggies.

Why protein? At least 15 grams or, say, 4-6 ounces of chicken breast will feed your muscles, aid in recovery and help satiate you.

Why carbs? Thirty grams of a fast carb can help restore glycogen and boost your energy levels. Fast carbs digest in the body quickly and rank higher on the glycemic index. In excess, they can be harmful for a diet. For post-recovery, think two slices of wheat bread or a cup of pasta.

Why veggies? It's not essential to your post-workout snack, but a cup of broccoli, kale or tomatoes is a healthy addition to your post-workout meal. These slow carbs digest slowly, have a low glycemic index, are healthier and can aid in weight loss,

Omelet, Fuel Your Workouts

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Hungry after your workout? Try a veggie omelet.

3 Meal Options

Morning: A veggie omelet (2-3 whole eggs or 4-6 egg whites), 2 slices of toast, 1 cup of blueberries.

Afternoon: A tortilla filled with 4 ounces of chicken, 1 cup of rice, 1 cup of beans.

Evening: 3 ounces of salmon, baked sweet potato, asparagus or a side salad.

The Perfect Post-Workout Smoothie

You can't go wrong with a tasty smoothie to combat muscle fatigue and boost your energy. Blend up the perfect post-workout meal with these ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of berries
  • 4 ounces of almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon almond or cashew butter (optional)

Blend and serve.

Stacy Julien is the executive online editor for the Health channel at AARP.

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