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Choosing what to eat before and after your workout can be a challenge. You need an energy boost, but you don t want to be too full, plus you don t want to feel hungry. To take the guesswork out, we enlisted nutritionist Lara Dalch of Dalch Wellness to help us break down the three best pre and post-workout snacks.

A certified health and nutrition coach, Dalch specializes in dispensing practical advice to help people balance their fitness and nutritional goals with their busy schedules. Also a certified Pilates instructor, avid runner and cyclist, Dalch is well versed in the nutritional needs of active people.

SLIDE SHOW: 3 Perfect Pre-Workout & Post-Workout Snacks

3 Pre-Workout Snacks

When it comes to pre-workout snacks, Dalch recommends choosing a combination of carbohydrates, protein and a small amount of fat to fuel your workout. She also recommends hydrating with at least 8-12 ounces of water. This is especially important for morning exercisers, since you haven t had anything to drink for about eight hours.

According to Dalch, the ideal time to eat your snack is one and a half, to two hours before your workout, in order to give your body time to digest the food. However if you like to workout in the morning, you can eat something about 30 minutes before your workout.

Here are three of Dalch s favorite pre-workout snacks.

1. Smoothie made with coconut water, fruit and ginger.

Smoothies are already blended, making them easy to digest pre-workout, and Dalch likes adding fruits like bananas and strawberries, 8 oz of coconut water and a pinch of fresh ginger. Why ginger, you ask. Ginger is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with post workout muscle recovery.

2. Energy bar made with fruit and nuts.

Energy bars are admittedly controversial in the nutrition world, since most have enough sugar to qualify as a candy bar. However, the bars are also easy to grab and pack for a pre-workout snack, so understandably many people love them. Dalch says that while whole foods are always better, if you don t have access to anything else, you ll want to stick to a few energy bar guidelines. Look for something with minimal sugar (ideally from fruit sources), no added sugar and only three or four ingredients. She recommends fruit and nut bars like the ones from Larabars and KIND Bars.

3. Banana and a tablespoon of nut butter.

Bananas are another great pre-workout snack option. Add a tablespoon of nut butter to achieve a filling balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates.

3 Post-Workout Snacks

According to Dalch, post workout, you need to replace fluids, carbohydrates, salt and protein in your body, and in that order. Aim to eat your snack within 30 minutes of your workout and use your workout s duration and a guide for how large to make your post workout snack. If you exercised intensely for over an hour, you will need more hydration and a larger snack than if you walked for 20 minutes. Also, unless you are bodybuilding, no need to wolf down a bar with 25 grams of protein. Dalch says most people think they need more protein than they actually do, so instead look for a balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat.

Here are three of Dalch s favorite post-workout snacks.

1. Coconut water or chocolate milk

Think of coconut water as nature s energy drink. It hydrates your body and replaces sodium, potassium and electrolytes lost during your workout naturally, without the dyes and added sugar found in some energy drinks.

Chocolate milk might sounds like a surprising choice, but Dalch says it contains the healthy combination of carbohydrates and protein needed for post-workout recovery. Plus, chocolate milk cartons are easy to carry and something anyone with kids might already have in their fridge.

2. Whole grain toast, sliced avocado and a pinch of salt

Filled with fiber, whole grain toast is a healthy source of carbohydrates. Add a few slices of fresh avocado for healthy fat and a pinch of salt to replace lost sodium.

3. Apple and nuts like almonds

Apples are another easy and portable snack to enjoy post workout at home or at the office. Pair your apple with a few almonds to achieve the protein, fat and carbohydrate combination Dalch recommends.

Each of these snacks is a nutritious choice to fuel your workout and aid your recovery, plus most are easy to pack and eat on the go. Just keep Dalch s tips in mind when picking a pre and post- workout snack: make sure it contains carbohydrates, protein and a little healthy fat. The combination of these three nutrients makes you feel full and gives your body the energy it needs to power through your workouts, and always, make sure you have plenty of hydration.

You can visit Dalch s website at Dalch Wellness
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