3 Nutrition Tips to Optimize Your Work Out

Want to optimize your workout? Feel fatigued and lack the stamina and energy you desire for your exercise training? Poor nutrition and inadequate hydration can decrease your ability to workout in an ideal way. Since you have already devoted the time to exercise, try these 3 tips to optimize your workout.

Tip #1: Eat breakfast

Ironically, what you eat for breakfast can affect your ability to exercise 9 hours later during an afternoon or evening workout. Since food is fuel, eating a hearty and nutritious breakfast provides you with the foundation for a strong start in the day.

One study demonstrated that exercisers who ate breakfast and then a light snack before a workout were able to workout 20% harder during a one-hour exercise test compared to those who did not. Bring science to the table and eat breakfast!

One of my clients said, "I don't have time to eat breakfast." We timed how long it took her to drink a glass of low fat milk or 1/2 cup of orange juice. Less than 1 minute. If you have never been a breakfast eater, drinking a nutritious drink, such as milk, juice or a smoothie, is an easy way to introduce your body to breakfast.

Eventually, you will want to expand and eat 3 out of the 5 food groups for breakfast: fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy or dairy subsitute (for calcium) and grains.

Try these quick healthy breakfast ideas:

  • Whole wheat bagel, peanut butter, and banana slices
  • Hot or cold cereal with nuts, fruit, and milk
  • Whole wheat toast with scrambled eggs and spinach and mushrooms
  • Quesadilla with ham and cheese
  • Breakfast burrito with beans, salsa and cheese
  • Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie with nuts
  • Sliced turkey, red bell peppers and cheese rolled up in a tortilla
  • 2 Pieces of last night's leftover pizza

Tip #2: Add protein to your lunch

Not only is protein critical for helping build and repair muscles, it will also help you feel fuller longer. For lunch, add some garbanzo beans and walnuts to your salad or add chicken to your pasta dish to provide sustained fuel for your workout later. Add these protein foods to your lunch.

Foods with protein and iron:

  • Fish, including seafood, salmon, tilapia
  • Meats, including beef, turkey, chicken, ham
  • Beans, including, garbanzo, vegetarian refried beans
  • Nuts, including pecans, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts
  • Nut butters, including, peanut, almond butter, Brazil nuts

Foods with protein and calcium:

  • Milk, including milk alternatives, soy, almond
  • Yogurt, including milk alternatives, soy, almond
  • Greek yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt
  • Cheese: including, string cheese, sharp cheddar, Gruyere
  • Cottage Cheese

Tip #3: Drink water, drink water, drink water

One of the first signs of dehydration is sluggishness and lack of energy. Depending on how much you sweat, the intensity of your exercise session, and the climate you live in, you should drink 2-3 liters of water each day.

By following these three tips of eating breakfast, adding protein to lunch and drinking plenty of water you can not only optimize your workout, but you will also develop healthy eating habits for life.

Originally published February 9, 2016
Updated July 16, 2019

Martha M. Henze, MPH, MS, RDN

Martha recently completed her Masters of Public Health (MPH) in global epidemiology and aims to help people improve their health on a population basis around the world.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Alcohol & Other Beverages/Water Exercise/Fueling for Exercise Meal Planning & Diets/Breakfast

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