If you are rolling out of bed into your gym clothes, and then out the door for an early morning workout, you’ll want to reach for something quickly digestible (like a banana) or purely liquid (like coffee). “Coffee is a proven ergogenic aid (performance enhancer) and it’s not dehydrating like most people believe,” says Nancy Clark, a sports nutritionist, registered dietitian, and author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. According to Supplements and Ergogenic Aids for Athletes, by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, caffeine increases alertness, acts as a central nervous system stimulant, helps with mental sharpness, and decreases perceived exertion. While coffee alone gives you a boost, Clark says it’s important to eat something before a workout. “Five minutes before your work out, take a swig of orange juice or eat a banana otherwise your body will go into breakdown mode. Eating something will give you more energy and you’ll have a better workout.” If you are craving caffeine post-workout, go for a latte. “A latte gives you the combination of carbohydrate and protein” says Sarah Currie, registered dietician and co-owner of Physical Equilibrium. “If you are avoiding dairy, ask for almond or coconut milk.” Here are the foods fitness pros eat to refuel after a workout.
The ultimate comfort breakfast food is an ideal carbohydrate-rich pre-workout choice. It’s full of fiber (which helps you feel full), low in fat, and high in slow-digesting, blood sugar-friendly carbohydrates. Oatmeal’s soluble fiber—beta glucan—has been proven to lower LDL cholesterol. “If you want to burn fat, you need a hard workout, and you need some carbs to get you through the class,” says Currie. While oatmeal alone is ideal fuel for the average gym class, if you are working out for a longer period of time, Clark suggests adding some protein. “Swirl some peanut butter in your oatmeal.” Want to bulk up? Eat these 9 foods to get lean and mean muscles.