What to Eat on your Cardio Days?


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Being a fitness enthusiast, you must be curious about what you should eat on your cardio days. People often get confused regarding the food they should put into their bodies when they are performing certain training. What is more confusing here is the healthy diet you take regularly might not be a good food choice for your particular workout. You might just end your elliptical workout or aerobics class & wondering what you should eat to refuel your body. What to eat after your cardio training totally depends on the kind of cardio workout you have performed.

Cardio exercises are primarily performed for burning calories that lead to maintaining weight or losing fat. Losing extra pounds can be hard but if you have a plan you can do it. You can learn here how to get rid of back fat! Here are some guidelines on what you should eat for getting most out of your cardio workout. 

Basics of Cardio Workouts

Most common cardio workouts are walking, running, swimming, dancing & cycling needs energy in the form of carbohydrates & fats. The carbohydrates are your body’s number go-to source for energy and healthy fats as well. When exercise intensity fluctuates your body switches between carbs & fat back and forth for providing energy. As you cannot have a full command over when and nutrient your body needs, consuming optimum amounts of both in your regular diet. For knowing more about workouts and fitness click here

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Pre-Cardio workout Diet 

Your Pre- cardio workout diet should essentially focus on storing healthy carbs. As carbs with high content take more time for digesting, be careful about what carbs to take directly before hitting the exercise. Consider taking a pre-exercise meal that has low fat & sugar content. And have concentrations of protein & high carbs. Your food has to be digested so it can fuel your working muscles groups. Last thing that you should do is hit the treadmill with your full stomach.

Have a regular meal 3-4 hours before your cardio workout session. Your meal should include following diets  

  • Salad made up of vinaigrette dressing, grilled chicken & whole wheat
  • Have Grilled salmon with some brown rice & broccoli
  • Turkey and cheese or the PB&J with whole-grain bread
  • Whole-grain pasta along with feta cheese & grilled vegetables
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If you want to snack 60 mins or even less before your cardio workout consider having a low-fat & low-protein snack. Following are diet option that you can have 

  • Nonfat yogurt
  • Fruit salad with no cream
  • Smoothie with almond milk
  • low-fat granola bar
  • Some pretzels

Make sure you choose food based on your personal tolerance that you can digest easily. 

How soon should you eat after your cardio exercises?

If you performed moderate intensity cardio for less than an hour, you haven’t depleted all the energy from your muscles. Energy in your muscles is stored as glycogen (in the form of sugar molecules chain). The body relies on your fat & sugar stocks to get fueled for aerobic exercise. Make sure you take a meal within 45-60 mins after you have performed a moderate intensity cardio for restoring your muscle glycogen. It is essentially important for people who do cardio workout regularly. If you exercise with an empty stomach, consider consuming a diet with a blend of protein & carbohydrates right after working out so you can promote muscle growth.

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However, If you took your last meal an hour or two before workout, that meal is sufficient for post exercise muscle building. Because amino acids your body needs for building muscles from your food remains in your bloodstream for almost 2 after eating. Which would be enough for your cardio workouts.

Post-Cardio Workout Diet 

Eating right post-workout cardio nutrients help the body to recover faster. Make sure you eat carbs & protein after working out. No matter at which intensity you work out or what is the level of your training your body will undergo muscle protein breakdown. Post workout meals help in decreasing breakdown of muscle protein. And promotes muscle growth and enhances recovery. Make sure you eat healthy carbs and high protein. Go for the following snack options after working out:

  • Full glass of a chocolate milk
  • Take Hummus with the pita chips
  • Crunch protein bar
  • Take half or mini turkey sandwich with a whole grain bread
Philip Okoye
the authorPhilip Okoye
Your favorite recipe author, faithful to every course. Mail me at

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