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VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System


Healthy Tips for National Nutrition Month

Healthy Foods

Whether it's starting the day off right with a healthy breakfast or fueling before exercise, the foods you choose can make a difference.

By Written by: Mariah Lewis, MPH
Thursday, March 1, 2018

Nutrition and physical activity are important components of a healthy lifestyle. Studies show that physical activity is related to improved physical ability, a better immune system, and better mental health, all of which will help you feel your best. But, do you ever feel exhausted before, during, or after a workout?

Proper nutrition can help! In order to feel and perform our best during and after physical activity, we need to make sure that our bodies are nourished with the right nutrients. By focusing on the timing and types of nutrients we eat, it can help us achieve our physical activity goals.


Eating before exercise can help people perform at the top of their game. It is recommended that you eat something containing carbohydrates and protein 1-3 hours before you exercise. This will help you maintain proper blood glucose levels and prepare your muscles for the work that they are about to do. Also, choosing something that is lower in fat and fiber will help prevent any gastrointestinal distress during exercise.

Keep in mind, it is also important to have consumed enough fluids. Beginning physical activity well hydrated will help your body function properly. Try to drink sufficient water at least 2 hours prior to exercise.


Make sure to drink water throughout your workout so that you don’t lose energy before you’re finished. This will also make it easier to rehydrate after physical activity.


It is important to eat something with protein and complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, etc.) following a workout. This will help you build and repair your muscles and replenish the energy that was lost during your workout. Ideally, it is best to eat something within one hour after you finish.

Drinking fluids after is also very important. Our bodies lose water when we sweat, and we can easily become dehydrated as a result. In fact, even if we are not visibly sweating, we lose water through breathing and may still be losing water through unnoticeable amounts of sweat.


  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • Oatmeal with low-fat milk and fruit and nuts
  • Post-workout recovery smoothie (low fat milk, protein powder, fruit, etc.)
  • Low-fat chocolate milk
  • Banana slices with peanut butter
  • Apple with peanut butter


  • Post workout recovery smoothie (frozen fruit, yogurt, milk, etc.)
  • Low-fat chocolate milk
  • Turkey on a whole grain wrap with veggies
  • Yogurt with fruit


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