You might not be able to outrun a bad diet, but you can still eat to fuel your workouts.

Want to feel awesome in the gym and reach your goals more effectively and efficiently? Let’s take a look at the best things to eat before and after a workout for maximum gain, no matter what your diet.

What to eat before working out

Option 1: Fasted

Do you wake before the sun is up to hit the gym early? Don’t have the time or motivation to prepare breakfast, let alone wait for it to digest so you can start your workout? Then working out fasted might be for you.

If you experience dizziness or lethargy, make sure to consume enough electrolytes either before or during your workout.

Option 2: Pre-workout supplement

If you don’t want to eat before working out but need a little something to give you a boost of energy, you could try taking a pre-workout supplement. These tend to contain high amounts of caffeine, so are perhaps not the best choice for a workout close to bedtime.

There are many options available, some of which contain ingredients that can have unwelcome side effects such as itchy skin. If this concerns you, try having a black coffee before working out. It’s all the caffeine without the other stuff!

Option 3: Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the go-to pre-workout of choice for many a gym rat. Consuming a small amount of carbs will fill up your body’s glycogen stores and give you energy during your workout.

They’re also a great option for intense sessions or days when you want to hit a new personal best with your lifts.

Some easy options include a banana, sweet potato, or oats.

Option 4: Low carbohydrate

You don’t have to consume carbs before working out. Any food will give you energy, no matter what the macronutrient ratio.

Bulletproof coffee is a great option, especially for anyone following a ketogenic diet. The MCTs in this concoction will give you all the energy you need to power through your session.

Another option is exogenous ketones. Ketones are an energy source, so supplementing them can be a great alternative to carbs.’

What to eat after working out

Option 1: Stay fasted

Contrary to what protein powder brands have led us to believe, failing to consume protein within an hour of your workout will not cause your body to eat your muscles and negate all your hard work.

More recent studies suggest that delaying your post-workout meal for up to three hours will not have any detrimental effects on muscle gain.

If you practice intermittent fasting, try to schedule your workout for the end of your fasting window. That way you can break your fast with a well-deserved post-workout meal.

Option 2: Protein and carbohydrates

An awesome workout will leave your body with depleted glycogen stores and ready to build muscle. Eating a meal consisting of protein and carbohydrates will replenish that glycogen and give your body what it needs to build muscle.

This can be in the form of a proper meal, such as eggs on toast, or a protein shake if you’re on the go.

Option 3: Low carbohydrate

It’s not necessary to stuff yourself with carbs after a workout, but it is necessary to consume protein. Make a meal (or protein shake) with enough protein, and add lower-carb options such as non-starchy vegetables, cottage cheese, yogurt or berries.

Whether you’re pushing back that next meal or eager to fuel your gains ASAP, we’ve got plenty of resources on the best way to eat to support your active lifestyle. From counting calories to everything you need to know about protein powder, NC Fitness has the knowledge you’re after.