October 20, 2020
• Updated on
23 Jul

Pre & Post Workout diet for Strength Training

When it comes to strength training, the early you add it to your fitness routine, the better it is. As we age, it gets harder to build or maintain muscle. And the best way to build strong muscles that defy aging is strength training.

The benefits of strength training go beyond mere fat loss or inch loss. As you build lean muscle, the body fat starts dropping. It also helps you become stronger and more functional.

For most people, cardio is the first and favorite route to weight loss. But cardio without strength training is like a body without a soul. Cardio primarily helps in burning calories during the workout. Once you are off the treadmill, the calorie burning stops.

On the other hand, strength training helps burn calories during and after exercise. Also, more muscle means a higher BMR or Base Metabolic Rate. How?

During strength training, your muscle is constantly being broken down, recreated, and synthesized. All these procedures need energy. So the more muscle you have, the more energy your body will consume to carry out all these procedures.

And let’s not forget metabolism, which thrives with strength training. As you burn more calories at rest, thanks to a higher BMR, you experience not just weight loss but also a tighter and leaner body. In a nutshell, strength training is an indispensable part of every weight loss plan.

pre and post workout diet
Your muscles need adequate nutrition to repair and recover.

It goes without saying that for good muscle mass you need a healthy pre and post-workout diet, muscle-nourishing & building nutrition in particular. Nutrition is an integral part of strength training. Undergoing constant wear and tear, your muscles need adequate nutrition to recover and repair.

Contrary to popular belief, eating right for strength training doesn’t only mean grazing on high-quality protein foods. Prioritizing protein in your pre and post-workout diet is definitely important for maintaining muscle health, but you also need Carbohydrates, Fat, and Hydration to keep the body performing at its best.

Athletes or those who do high-intensity workouts need Carbohydrates with protein in their pre and post-workout diet because carbohydrates produce energy in a more efficient manner than fats and protein. Since not all fats are created equal, healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, coconut oil, etc, when included in pre and post-workout diet, provide you adequate energy for strength training.

At the same time, the quantity, quality, and timing of your pre and post-workout diet, as well as snacks, also plays a key role. For example, whole-grain offers healthy, complex carbs in comparison to a pizza, which gives simple carbs. For heart-healthy Fats, you can consider walnuts, almonds, avocados, and fish.

Truly effective and result-oriented strength training is deeply rooted in a nutritious pre and post-workout diet. When strength training, the food you eat becomes a source of energy as well as nourishment for your body. Let’s see what sort of pre and post-workout diet you need to have in order to get the best out of your strength training.

benefits of pre and post workout supplements

Pre-workout Meal (1–2 hours before the workout)

The obvious difference between the pre and post-workout diet is the timings. Think of a pre-workout meal as an energy booster. You need to fuel up a bit for a truly engrossing, sweat-high workout session.

This will also ensure that there is less muscle glycogen depletion, which in turn increases muscle growth. Go for a smart snack, which gives you more energy to exercise even harder in the gym.

Ideally, a smart snack is a mixture of carbohydrates and proteins so that it can provide more sustained energy levels and prevent muscle breakdown.

All in all, a Pre-workout meal is important as it helps to reach our maximum potential and better concentration during a workout. Some healthy pre-workout snack options are:

 Coconut oil (2 tsp) in Coffee (1 cup)

 Coconut water

In between pre and post-workout diet

Muscle cramps, achy joints, headache, nausea, and fatigue are all likely symptoms of moderate dehydration. To maintain the hydration levels, reduce exercise fatigue, decrease muscle soreness and help build muscle, you need a good mix of powerful electrolytes and nutrients such as sodium and potassium. While working out, you can try:

BCAA (1 scoop) in 500 ml of water

 Whey Protein (200 ml)

*Scoops and water also depend on the height and weight of your body plus the weight one is lifting.

Post-workout diet (30 minutes after the workout)

Protein plays a crucial during this 30 minutes window after strength training as it helps reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. Since this is your body’s building phase, you need to eat protein to help the body replenish and recover.

During exercise, muscle tissues break down. The protein we eat after a workout also gets broken down into amino acids, which then supplies the nutrient needed for muscle tissue repair. You can look at these healthy combinations:

 Egg whites (3) + Whole grain Toast (1)

 Moong Dal Cheela (1) + Curd (1 cup) + Paneer cubes (2 tbsp)

 Quinoa Khichdi (1 bowl) + Sattu (1 glass)

Post-workout diet (in 2 hours)

A proper, balanced, and nutritious meal is necessary post-workout because after strength training body’s metabolism gets fired up and it continues to be on fire for a long time.

Your body steps into the “after-burn phase” due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which keeps metabolism elevated for up to 72 hours afterward. This boosts the burning of fat long after a workout, compared with lower or moderate-intensity workouts.

Your meal should aid this post-workout calorie burn. This is how your plate should look like:

Lentils/lean Protein + Starchy veggie/ Whole grains + cooked green leafy veggie or other veggies + Ghee/White Homemade butter + Yogurt/Buttermilk)

8 Strength Training Exercises that you can do at home

1. Plank

2. Squats

3. Chest press

4. Deadlifts

5. Burpees

6. Push-ups

7. Lunges

8. Jumping jack

Benefits of Strength Training

 Builds & maintains Lean Muscle Mass

 Improves bone health

 Improves aerobic performance and overall physical activity

 Lowers cholesterol

 Accelerates Weight loss

 Boosts immunity

benefits of pre and post workout supplements

Pre and post-workout meals for muscle gain

When working out, your primary aim is to stay lean and build good muscles. Taking a small, mini-meal an hour before your workout will help you achieve the muscle growth you are aiming for.

Make sure your pre-workout diet should not be heavy, which can make you feel lazy and sleepy. The small pre-workout meal should be made up of equal parts of lean protein and carbs to give you the right amount of energy for exercising.

It is believed that intense sessions of resistance exercise damage the muscles, but consuming protein increases the number of amino acids in the body, which help to reduce deterioration, synthesize muscle proteins and stimulate growth.

Protein in the post-workout meal with healthy fats helps your muscles repair, recover and grow.

pre and post workout meals for muscle gain

Pre and post-workout food for weight gain

Pre-workout diet

Grilled Chicken, Broccoli, and Sweet Potato

Whole Grain Bread and Boiled eggs

An apple with peanut butter or a small handful of nuts

Any whole piece of fruit — Fruits provide the best source of simple carbohydrates before a workout. Bananas are a popular choice, as they contain potassium as well as simple carbohydrates.


1/2 cup oatmeal with raisins or berries

A handful of nuts and raisins (two parts raisins: one part nuts)

Post-workout diet

Salmon with Sweet Potato

Grilled chicken with roasted vegetables.

Oatmeal, whey protein, banana and almonds.

Cottage cheese and fruits.

1 slice of whole-wheat toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ sliced banana

1 to 2 hard-boiled eggs with a slice of whole-wheat toast

A veggie omelet with avocado and ½ cup of roasted potatoes

What should be the pre and post-workout meals for women?

The rules for pre and post-workout meals for women follow similar rules. You should not eat immediately before a workout because your stomach tries to simultaneously digest the food while exercising, which can cause discomfort.

To maximize the result of your training, plan your pre and post-workout diet in such a manner that it doesn’t strain your digestive system. A combination of carbs and protein is recommended for pre-workout meals and this should be taken at least 45 minutes before the workout.

Post-workout, it is recommended that you consume 0.3–0.5 grams of protein per kg of your bodyweight soon after a workout. Go for complex carbs that help your muscle replenish the glycogen they just lost while training.

Research suggests that a delay of carb consumption by as little as two hours after a workout may lead to as much as 50% lower rates of glycogen synthesis. Moreover, keep your body well hydrated during the workout.

What to eat pre and post-workout to lose weight?

Exercising and eating for weight loss can be tricky to balance. Your body needs enough fuel to give you plenty of energy for the workouts. At the same time, you do not want to store calories that could prevent you from losing weight.

Combining a complex carbohydrate with a lean protein for your pre and post-workout diet is the best way to fuel your body for the desired weight loss. The no starvation and scientifically balanced weight loss diet & nutrition plans from Nutrition by Lovneet Batra can help you eat right for weight loss.

Is it better to have a pre and post-workout meal?

Weight loss happens when your body loses fat and gains lean body mass. This can be achieved through the perfect combination of diet and exercise. Both pre and post-workout diets are important.

Optimal nutrient intake prior to exercise not only helps you maximize your performance during the workout but also minimizes muscle damage. Good nutrition post-workout can help your body repair and recover faster.

The nutritional requirements of your body during strength training are different and need to be addressed with a diet that helps your body recover, repair and build muscles. Nutrition by Lovneet Batra helps you customise a wholesome diet plan to meet your fitness goals. Click here to know about our Nutrition Plans


Why is it important to pay attention to your diet while strength training?

Strength training is about building muscle mass. You need a healthy pre and post-workout diet, muscle-nourishing & building nutrition in particular. Nutrition is an integral part of strength training.

Undergoing constant wear and tear, your muscles need adequate nutrition to recover and repair. Eating right for strength training doesn’t only mean high-quality protein.

Adding adequate protein in your pre and post-workout diet is definitely important for maintaining muscle health, but you also need carbohydrates, healthy fats, and hydration to keep the body performing at its best.

What are the healthy fats one can consume while strength training?

You can consume heart-healthy fats like walnuts, almonds, avocados, and fish.

When should you eat before or after your workout?

Your pre-workout meal should happen 1-2 hours before strength training/workout. And the post-workout diet should be consumed 30 minutes after the workout. A heavier meal can be had 2 hours after the workout. 

What foods are included in the pre-workout diet?

For your pre-workout fix, turn to grilled chicken, broccoli, sweet potato, boiled eggs, whole-grain bread, apple with peanut butter, a handful of nuts, 1/2 cup oatmeal, any whole piece of fruit (like bananas), smoothie. 

What foods are included in the post-workout diet?

For your post-workout fix, turn to salmon with sweet potato, grilled chicken with roasted vegetables, oatmeal with whey protein, banana and almonds; cottage cheese and fruits, 1 slice of whole-wheat toast with 1 tbsp of peanut butter and 1/2 sliced banana, veggie omelette with avocado and 1/2 cup roasted potato. 

Read more:
Sports Nutrition Explained: Why Is Sports Nutrition So Important & Everything Else You Need To Know About It

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Lovneet Batra
Lovneet Batra is a clinical nutritionist with over a decade of experience treating patients and educating people on the benefits of a healthy diet. One of Delhi’s most sought-after nutritionists...
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