What and when to eat is a question I get often. For me it certainly is something I have spent a great deal of time experimenting with.

There is more than one right option since of course we all have different circumstances and goals and also most likely very different types of training as well as intensity.

For me it is something that took a lot of experimenting and time to perfect and something that also changes depending where I am in my training cycle, what’s on the agenda for the day and what my goals are in respect to my performance and body composition. But also how much time between when I have time to eat and when I get to train.

As I am now an older athlete, recovery is more top of mind for me or more so how to maximize my recovery. And while you may get away with working out without being properly fuelled for a couple of sessions, the impact on your performance and recovery is always there and soon these things catch up to you.

Back in my long distance running days, it was clear to me that while some food agreed with me while on the move, others didn’t. In long distance running, an upset tummy can really ruin a good run fast and so can running out of fuel, often referred to as bonking. But what about Crossfit? What if I am just doing a regular class and my workout can literally be as short as 5 minutes, do I need to worry about it?

The short answer is yes but it also depends.

If I eat a full balance meal and go to the gym in the next 2-3 hours, chances are I am plenty fuelled for my workout if my session isn’t too long or strenuous. But what about if I was in a rush and I had a couple of pepperoni sticks at my desk and a giant latte for lunch? Would I benefit from a better pre-workout strategy? For sure. Will it magically make me PR? Probably not. But it may keep me from going home from the gym and eating an entire bag of chips because by now I am dying from hunger and can hardly think straight and make good choices for myself.

Things to consider if you are wondering about your own strategies. What are my goals, how often to I train, how soon will I train next. What is my current focus? Performance, weight loss, health? Properly fuelling your workouts will not only help in the performance of this workout, but also support your recovery.  If you do two a day workouts, workout at night and then again in the morning, or even workout daily, your recovery should be something you keep top of mind.

My general guideline is to have a nice mix of healthy carbs and lean protein both pre and post workout, keeping your fat low as they slow down digestion and can be bothersome in your tummy while working out. Quantity will change depending on your size, time of day and when you last had a meal and also duration of your workouts. Again experimenting with yourself, keeping an open communication with your coach or even a journal entry of how you felt and what worked and didn’t will help you find your own personal strategies.

Below I have listed some of my favourites for every day food and competition food. All easy to digest and carry around.

  1. Overnight oats (works well pre & post)
  2. Cereals (pre & post)
  3. Baby Food pouches (great pre especially when you don’t have a lot of time to digest and even intra workout when you have a big session)
  4. Greek yogourt (better post)
  5. Roasted yams; one of my favourite is roasted yams, cooked chicken breast and a little salsa for flavour,or a little peanut butter and cinnamon one of my go-to on comp days for sure (pre & post)
  6. Whole grains cereal bars (pre & post)
  7. Bananas, on it’s on, in smoothie with some protein and almond milk  or mashed up with a little PB2
  8. Low fat jerky (make sure to hydrate well here to balance sodium content)
  9. Cottage cheese and berries (better post)
  10. PB & J sandwich
  11. Rice and meat. I love rice and ground meat with a little salsa, again, lean protein + good carbs nothing fancy.

As you can see I did not put a lot of shakes or bars into this, though they are great and easy options as well. But I find in most cases, the food I have around works quite well and for me I like to consider bars and supplements to be more emergency food for when I can’t easily access healthy options.

If you do dairy you may prefer to do it post for digestion. But this may be very specific to individuals and digestion, I am okay with it either way as long as I have an hour to digest prior.

If you’ve been around me I am sure you have seen me open up my little mason jars with my oats. I can’t seem to be getting sick of them. These are hardly recipes but I’d thought I’d share a few of my favourites for you to try.

Annie’s Overnight Oats.

All of them can be made the night before, can keep in your fridge for a few days and in a rush can even be made the morning of. It just needs to sit in your fridge a few hours to soften up.

Peanut butter & Banana:

  • 1/2 cup of quick oats
  • 3/4 cup of your milk of choice, I use unsweetened vanilla flavoured almond milk
  • 1/2 scoop to 1 scoop of chocolate or peanut butter protein powder
  • 1 tbsp of PB2 (peanut butter in powder form found in health and supplement stores and organic section of your grocery store where the regular PB resides)

Mix all ingredients in a mason jar or small container, shake well + top with 1/2 a sliced banana.

PB & J oats:

Same ingredients as peanut butter & banana except top with 1 to 2 tbsp of your favourite low sugar jam. Here is my go to from the amazing Eat the Gains.  My daughter and I make a new batch every couple of weeks.

2 Ingredient Winter Berry Chia Jam

Cookie dough Oats:

  • 1/2 cup of quick oats
  • 1 cup of your milk of choice
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 to 1 full scoop of vanilla or chocolate peanut butter (or cookie dough if you have some ☺️)

Mix all ingredients well. Top with 1 tbsp of chocolate chips, I like the Enjoy life mini dark organic chios. You need extra milk in this one or the chia will make it too thick.

Vanilla & Berries:

  • 1/2 cup of quick oats
  • 3/4 cup of your milk of choice
  • 1/2 to 1 scoop of protein powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Mix well and top with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of berries of your choice, fresh or frozen. Also great with dried blueberries, I love the unsweetened ones from Trader Joes, 1tbsp is all you need.

Pumpkin oats:

  • 1/2 cup of quick oats
  • 3/4 cup of your milk of choice
  • 1/2 to 1 full scoop of either vanilla or peanut butter protein powder
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of canned puree pumpkin
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin spice

Top with a few chopped nuts of your choice.

As you can see the possibility are endless here and you can add toppings if you have macros to spare.

Some things I like to add:

  • Chopped nuts
  • Coconut flakes
  • Mini-chocolate chips
  • Chia seeds (add more milk)
  • Hemp seeds
  • A spoonful of flavoured or plain greek yogourt

Hope this was helpful, feel free to drop me a line if you want some more help with your own sport nutrition and recovery. Now it’s time for me to go eat my snack so I can go crush it at the gym later!