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Whether you go to the gym a few times a week, jog the neighborhood every morning or are training for a triathlon, proper nutrition is essential for optimal performance, energy levels and recovery. While it is important to fuel and hydrate your body throughout the whole day, knowing what to eat and when to eat around exercise can help you have the energy you need to train and perform your best.

Medjool dates are an excellent source of carbohydrate pre-, during- and post-workout. They can help fuel your exercise routine while also providing your body with other essential nutrients it needs to recover like antioxidants and potassium. Plus, they are a simple, convenient, ready-to-eat snack that you can throw in your gym bag.

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Pre-Workout Fuel

Pre-workout nutrition is focused on fueling and hydrating the body for training and performance.

2 to 4 Hours Pre-Workout

Consume a pre-workout meal to provide your body with energy for training.

Pre-workout meal ideas:

Oatmeal with Medjool dates and nuts paired with low-fat Greek yogurt and 16 - 20 ounces of water

Turkey and cheese sandwich on whole grain bread with avocado, lettuce and tomato paired with 2-3 Medjool dates and 16 - 20 ounces of water

Cashew Chicken Stir Fry on brown rice or quinoa and 16 - 20 ounces of water

The meal should be:

Rich in complex carbohydrates (think oatmeal, quinoa or brown rice)

Lower in fat (think nuts and oils) and fiber (think broccoli and cauliflower)

Moderate in lean protein (think eggs, chicken or dairy)

Consume plenty of fluids pre-workout, at least 16-20 ounces (think water and sports drinks)

30 Minutes to 1 Hour Pre-Workout

If you feel hungry, add a snack of carbohydrates with a small amount of protein (this snack is not necessary if you consumed a meal close to the workout).

Pre-workout snack ideas:

2 Medjool dates with nut butter and 5-10 ounces of water

Whole grain granola bar with a string cheese and 5-10 ounces of water

Energy bar with 5-10 grams of protein and 5-10 ounces of water

This snack also applies to those individuals who workout early in the morning

It is important to consume a carbohydrate-rich snack prior to exercise to provide the body with energy

Because you have not consumed fluid all night, try to drink 16-20 ounces of water before starting exercise

During-Workout Fuel

During exercise, the main focus is to stay hydrated.

Ideal Water Consumption

  • Consume 5 -10 ounces of fluid every 15 - 20 minutes of consistent movement
  • For those exercising 0 - 90 minutes, water should be an appropriate way to hydrate

20 - 30 grams of carbohydrate ideas:

  • 2 dates
  • 1 gel or gu
  • 4-6 energy bites/blocks
  • 1 banana
  • 12-16 ounces sports drink

For those that train longer than 90 minutes, the sports nutrition recommendation is to add 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour.

  • If you are training for a marathon, triathlon or endurance event and know your workout will be multiple hours long, then start fueling with carbohydrates earlier in the training session to help prevent fatigue.
  • If you have never consumed carbohydrates during exercise, start practicing on long runs and/or rides with approximately 20-25 grams of carbohydrate every 30 minutes.

Post-Workout Recovery

Post-workout nutrition is focused on recovery. Think of recovery as having 3 R's: Replenish, Rebuild and Rehydrate.

0 to 45 Minutes Post-Workout

Immediate post-workout snack ideas:

Low-fat chocolate milk

Vanilla Greek yogurt with chopped Medjool dates and water

Protein bar and water

Smoothie made with low-fat milk, whey protein, Medjool dates and banana

2-3 ounces beef or chicken jerky, 2-4 Medjool dates and water

45 Minutes to 2 Hours Post-Workout

Follow your post-workout snack with another snack or meal within the 1 - 2 hours. This meal should contain complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fat, veggies (if appropriate) and fluid.

Post-workout meal ideas:

Harvest Quinoa Salad with salmon or chicken with water

Beef and Date Empanadas and a fresh green salad with water


Maintaining proper hydration is a key component to your overall health and fitness routine. Water helps your body in a variety of ways including:

Regulating body temperature

Helps lubricate and cushion joints

Helps rid the body of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements

In fact, depending on age, the human body is comprised of 60-80% water, making it essential that you're hydrating continuously.

  • The general guideline is to consume half your bodyweight (in pounds) in ounces of fluid per day.
  • Exercise will increase your fluid needs, so a general recommendation is to add an additional five to ten ounces of fluid for every 15 - 20 minutes of consistent activity.

Electrolytes are an essential part of hydration, specifically sodium and potassium. The average person loses three times the amount of sodium in sweat as potassium, and salty sweaters can lose even more.

  • If you exercise longer than 60 - 90 minutes, be sure to consume a sports drink or add electrolytes to your beverage
  • If it is hot and humid outside, or you train twice a day, add electrolytes to your workout routine at the start of exercise
  • Add electrolyte rich foods to your diet:
    • Sodium-rich foods: Add salt to eggs and veggies and consume other salty foods like salted nuts, whole grain crackers and pretzels, pickles, etc.
    • Potassium-rich foods: Medjool dates, strawberries, bananas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, avocado, milk, yogurt, etc.

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  1. American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance Position Stand. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2016.
  2. Karpinski C and Rosenbloom CA. Sports Nutrition: A Handbook for Professionals, 6th ed.