What is the difference between products that are labeled as pre, during and post workout?


Nutriton before a workout needs to happen 2-3 hours prior to the start and needs to focus on carbohydrate rich foods (lower glycemic index) with small amounts of protein and fat. Pre workout nutrition can be more or less balanced with an emphasis on carbohydrate. Energy products that are labeled as “before” usually focus on carbohydrate rich ingredients with lower glycemic index to avoid a sugar spike and crash.  Pre workout nutrition products will often have small amounts of fat and protein.

Some examples of good pre workout foods are:

Oatmeal, Quinoa, Bagels with nut butter and banana, low fiber fruits like bananas

Avoid: foods that are high in fat or protein or high on the glycemic index scale, foods that don’t agree with your digestive tract or that you have mild allergies to


Nutrition during a workout needs to focus primarily on carbohydrate because this is primarily what your body is burning.  It’s important to avoid dumping too much carbohydrate into your gut at one time.  Eat or drink small amounts frequently. Nutrition products that focus on “during activity” contain mostly carbohydrate and occasionally have small amounts of protein. During very long endurance events some protein and even very small amounts of fat can be beneficial.

Some examples of good food to eat during activity:

Bananas, bagles (lower fiber preferably), dates, almond butter and banana sandwich (for lower intensity, longer workouts), almond butter and banana in a soft shell tortilla wrap (again for longer lower intensity workouts)

Avoid: foods that are high in fat or protein (during lower intensity long endurance work you can get away with more)


Nutrition after a workout or a race needs to focus on replacing carbohydrate stores as well as refueling the body with good fat and protein to help regenerate muscle tissue. A balanced meal is usually the best course of action after a long hard workout. Energy nutrition products that focus on “after workout” are typically much higher in protein and ideally some good fat as well as containing significant amounts of carbohydrate to replenish depleted glycogen stores.

Here are some examples of food to eat post activity:

Lentils, lean meats, nut butters, low glycemic index fruit, quality plant based protein like hemp and pea

Avoid: high glycemic index foods, bad fats, “acidic” causing foods like caffeine, deep fried foods, alcohol

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