As more of us head out for a jog or incorporate home workouts into our schedules, it is important to consider what we are eating. Fuelling your body with the right food before and after exercise is key to achieving the most from your workout.

Waitrose & Partners Nutritionist, Nicky Selwood, explains what and when to eat and drink whether you’re doing an online class in your living room or training for a half marathon. You’ll also find ideas for pre-workout snacks and recipes for post-workout meals 


Some people prefer not to eat before they exercise, especially if they are doing an early morning workout. It’s really down to personal preference, though it has been shown to be beneficial to performance and endurance if you eat a meal or snack rich in carbohydrate and protein prior to exercising.

Timing is everything if you want to prevent any digestive discomfort, so if you do plan to eat, try to do so at least two hours prior to exercising. If you want to eat closer to your workout then opt for a lighter snack but give yourself at least 45 minutes to digest it.



  • Smoothies. High in carbohydrates and packed full of useful vitamins and minerals, these are a great way to provide energy before you work out at home. Make your own with whatever’s in the fruit bowl or grab a ready-made smoothie from the fridge 
  • Yogurt topped with fruit, such as juicy berries or mashed papaya. With plenty of energy-giving carbohydrates, this is a nutritionally balanced snack ideal for fuelling your workout. The protein in the yogurt slows the release of the carbohydrates, ideal if you need a little more sustained energy
  • Bananas. Did you know just one medium banana provides around 100kcals of energy? If you want to add a little protein and fat (to slow the release of the carbohydrates), then have a handful of nuts too



  • Wholegrain pasta with tomato and vegetable sauce. This carbohydrate-rich meal will fuel a tough workout
  • Scrambled eggs or baked beans on toast. Protein from eggs and beans helps your muscles work at their best during exercise while the carbohydrate-rich toast will provide energy
  • Peanut butter sandwich coupled with a protein-powered smoothie. Simple yet effective and a favourite with athletes, energy-rich nut butters are the ideal pre-workout food: a great source of protein which slows the release of the carbohydrates in the bread for more sustained energy


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Rehydrating after exercise is essential. Water is the obvious choice and perfect after a light workout but to replace electrolytes such as sodium and potassium lost through sweating, opt for a sports drink, fruit juice or the nutritionist’s favourite – milk. “Milk is my go-to post-exercise drink,” says Nicky. “As well as hydrating, it also contains electrolytes and has a good balance of carbohydrate and protein. Research suggests that this combination is ideal for muscle recovery after exercise.”

It is important to eat a healthy snack or meal following your workout. Many experts recommend you should eat or drink within 45 minutes of completing a workout. Include carbohydrates to replenish your energy stores and protein to help repair and build muscle.

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  • Oatcakes topped with your favourite nut butter
  • Yogurt and a piece of fruit
  • Cheese and crackers 
  • Mixed nuts, fruits and seeds
  • Sandwich made with wholemeal bread and a high protein filling (such as egg or tuna)


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