Fueling Your Workouts Dietitian Style

I’m speaking this week at Orangetheory to members in a session called: Fueling Your Workouts. Of course I’m presenting the information dietitian-style. I hear a lot of encouragement in gyms from young trainers and see post-it’s and goals on the Orangetheory walls to “lose my dad-bod”, “lose 20#”, “get a 6-pack”. I hope everyone reaches their goals…but for me, when I’m talking about fueling your workouts dietitian style, I’m much more concerned with your health and that you’re hydrated and eating a balanced diet that provides energy for your body. Fueling Your Workouts Dietitian Style

When thinking about power foods that fuel workouts, go for whole, unprocessed foods that offer a combination of complex carbohydrates, protein and fat. My list for Orangetheory clients (and anyone working out intensely) includes the following:

Bananas – no added sugar (only natural!) Fiber and carbohydrate; rich in nutrients

Yogurt – can have upwards of 20 grams of protein. Choose a low-fat, low-sugar variety like Siggis

Nut butters – protein and unsaturated fat plus vitamins and minerals to support your workout.

Berries – antioxidants, water content, and complex carbohydrate

Eggs – rich in protein (7 grams per egg!), fat and nutrients, 1-2 eggs are a great snack

Hummus – balanced with complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat, hummus is a perfect fuel

Wondering what to eat before and after a hard workout?

If you haven’t eaten in the last three hours, have a pre-workout snack about 30 minutes before your workout. Try:

  • ½ cup 2% plain yogurt with berries
  • ½ cup trail-mix: dried fruit and nuts
  • Small apple with ½ tablespoon peanut or almond butter
  • Having a snack within a half-hour after your workout can help support muscle repair. Try a snack that combines carbohydrates and protein.
  • ¼ cup hummus spread + whole grain crackers
  • Larabar, KINDbar, Rx bar, sports bar <200 calories
  • Rice cake + 2 tablespoons peanut/almond butter
  • 2 hard boiled eggs + ½ cup fruit

I’ve also got a lot of simple recipes on the ChampagneNutrition blog that are perfect for pre- or post-workouts. Pink Party Quinoa Salad, Cran-Almond Energy Bars, Coconut Cherry Energy Balls,  Oatmeal Raisin Energy Bites, or Green Iced Tea Breakfast Power Smoothie are simple and perfect to take along to your next workout.

Don’t forget hydration!

While I can’t tell a given person how much water they need exactly (it depends on so many factors!) I can suggest the following as a guideline of where to start:

  • Drink at least 16 ounces post-workout because water is lost through sweat and exhalation.
  • Arrive hydrates; dehydration can reduce athletic performance.
  • For the level of exercise we’re doing, there is generally no need for sports drink replacements. You get enough sodium and electrolytes from food.

I like to keep it simple, healthy and sane – dietitian style – when it comes to fueling your workouts. Of course, if you’re an athlete, you’ll need a special program but for the rest of us at OrangeTheory, CrossFit, Barre and all the rest, we’ll likely be just fine if we stay hydrated with water and fuel properly with whole, balanced foods.

What do you think? How do you fuel your workouts?


  1. Adrienne McGuire on September 1, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Thanks for these awesome suggestions. I too am way more concerned with fueling my body for health than for weight loss or “gainz” – haha. I typically eat a banana and yogurt before a workout – sometimes I add a whole grain muffin (small) or 1 Tbs of nut butter. Your suggestions will help me to mix up what I eat so I don’t get bored and/or lazy which ends badly with a sugar crash at the gym.

  2. Whitney E, R.D. on September 17, 2018 at 6:15 am

    You have some really awesome tips and tricks here. Wonderful snack ideas for fueling before a workout! That is awesome you’re going to be speaking at OrangeTheory. Great article and I hope you have an amazing time 🙂

  3. Katey Davidson on September 18, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you for making this simple and easy to understand!

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Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO

An award-winning, nationally recognized nutrition expert and media spokesperson.

Thanks for visiting! If you’re like me: obsessed with eating, wine, going out and traveling, you’re in the right place. Champagne Nutrition® LLC is a Registered Dietitian-run concierge virtual practice helping clients look and feel better. On this blog, you’ll find cocktails, mocktails, and plant-based recipes that are easy to make quickly at home and pack for leftovers on your adventures.

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