Eat Smart, Train Hard: Balancing macronutrients for pre and post workout fuel

Posted by One Academy on

You train hard for every session, but do you eat smart when it comes to your pre and post workout nutrition? Understanding nutrient timing and how to fuel for activity is going to be a key factor in crushing any fitness or health goal.

Fuelling your movement.

Your pre workout nutrition is designed to fuel your body for performance. Whether you’re running, lifting, or a combination of both, this meal should give you enough energy to sustain the session. 

When putting together your pre workout snack or meal, think about incorporating an appropriate balance of macronutrients one to two hours before your training session:

  • Protein: 20 to 40 grams or one to two palm-sized portions. This measurement will be based on bodyweight, so if you’re lighter with a moderate amount of muscle, opt for the lower end measurement.

  • Carbohydrates: 25% of your daily intake. Focus on simple carb sources that are lower in fiber so as to not impede digestion. If this meal is more than two hours prior to training, don’t worry too much about simple carbs and focus more on carb sources that make you feel good and sufficiently fueled!

  • Fat: 10 grams or 1 tablespoon. We’re keeping them on the lower end as they are slower to digest

If you’re an early riser and find yourself training first thing in the morning, you can opt for fasted training. The important thing here is to see how your body reacts to no pre workout fuel. However, if your overall goal is to build muscle, your best bet is to opt for an easily digestible snack with protein and carbs, such as a protein coffee and banana, or cream of rice with egg whites.

Looking for some pre workout fuel inspiration? Check out these ideas to get you started!


Protein Oatmeal

½ cup rolled or instant oats
1 tbsp ground flax
½ tsp cinnamon
½ to 1 scoop protein powder
Sea salt 

  • Mix oats, flax, and cinnamon in a microwave-safe bowl. 
  • Cover with water and microwave for 2 minutes. 
  • Let cool for a few minutes, and then stir in protein powder and add salt to taste. 
  • Optional: Top with nut butter for something creamy or berries for something sweet. 
Pre Workout Energy Balls 

1 cup oats
½ cup almond or peanut butter
4 Medjool dates (softened - remove pits and soak in boiling water for 5 minutes)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 scoop protein powder
2 tbsp cacao powder (optional for chocolate)
2-4 tbsp water, as needed
Sea salt

  • Mix all the ingredients together in a high-speed blender or food processor. 
  • Once blended, form your dough into 10 balls and store in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container. 
  • Pair one or two of these with a protein shake or protein coffee (½ to 1 scoop of protein mixed with your favourite coffee) 


Fuelling your recovery.

Your post workout nutrition is designed to refuel energy stores within the muscle and stimulate growth through muscle protein synthesis.

The two hours after your workout are an important window for nutrient absorption, so consider incorporating lots of protein and carb into your post workout meal.

  • Protein: 20 grams or one palm-sized portion. This will ensure recovery from muscle damage, as well and kick start the process of building new muscle.

  • Carbohydrates: 25% of your daily intake. This is the same as with your pre workout intake, but the focus is shifting from providing energy for immediate work to replenishing energy stores for later. These carbs will also initiate the process of muscle recovery

  • Fats: 5 grams or ½ tablespoon of fat. As we now know, fat slows digestion, and we don’t want to impede the metabolism of our valuable carbs and protein.  

Shaking up a post class smoothie is a great way to make sure you’re meeting these guidelines. The shake at the OA Cafe has a good balance of post workout nutrients to aid in your recovery, so that’s a great way to cap off a class! 

Looking for some post workout snack or meal ideas to kick start your recovery? Check out the recipes below! 


Protein Shake:

1 scoop protein
¼ cup egg whites (optional)
½ to 1 banana
1 cup milk of choice
Other fruits for added micronutrient value

  • Mix all the ingredients in a high speed blender, pour, and enjoy! 
  • Egg whites act as an easy-to-digest protein source that makes for a frothy shake. 
  • Adding other fruits is optional – go for frozen if you enjoy a thicker shake
Post-Workout Nourish Bowl

1 chicken breast, baked
½ sweet potato, baked
2 cups mixed greens
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard 

  • Cut your chicken and sweet potato into bite-sized cubes
  • Fill your bowl with mixed greens and top with chicken breast and sweet potato
  • In a separate bowl or jar, whisk the vinegar, olive oil, and dijon well or until it begins to emulsify 
  • Pre-cook a few days’ worth of chicken and sweet potato to make yourself a quick grab-and-go option!


Some food for thought.

Food is a valuable tool for optimizing your pre and post workout nutrition. Nutrient timing and macronutrient balancing can be great strategies for eating smart and crushing your goals, but always remember that these are guidelines. As coaches and everyday people, we must emphasize consistency, not perfection. Ensuring you don’t hold the concept of “perfect” dietary habits on a pedestal fosters a healthy relationship with food and day to day flexibility. 

This information can be a lot to digest, and adjusting measurements to your personal needs might be a bit of a guessing game. If you’re not sure where or how to start, reach out to our team about one-on-one nutrition. And don’t forget to pop by the OA Cafe to see our current offerings! 

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