These days it’s hard to imagine a world without energy bars, whey protein and electrolyte drinks, and the options are endless. I’ve found myself staring vacantly at shelves full of everything from fruit leather to dark-chocolate-covered-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-brownie-flavored this and that, wondering which options actually improve performance and which ones are essentially sugar bombs disguised as health foods.
Tyler and I have tried just about every option out there (although that statement won’t be true for much longer, since new products are popping up in stores every day). To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve compiled this list of our favorite foods and drinks for energy, recovery and hydration. This list is based solely on our own experience and personal preferences.
(Note: We don’t usually need extra fuel for workouts under 90 minutes. For those workouts we focus on hydration and recovery.)
Top Picks for Energy, Hydration and Recovery
Best Pre-Workout Meals
The common denominator? Complex carbohydrates!
Best for Quick Fuel
When you need an energy boost NOW!
Best for Long-Term Fuel
When you need sustained energy for the next 1-3 hours
- Hammer Gel
- Bobo’s bar
- Clif Nut Butter-Filled bar (or regular Clif bars…but I like the nut-butter ones the best!)
Best for Recovery
Consume within 30 minutes of completing your workout for maximum benefits
- Eat the Bear Whey Protein
- Hammer Chocolate Recoverite Drink
- Apple with peanut butter
- Clementines or an orange
- Chocolate Mud Puddle Smoothie
- Coconut water (we like Harmless Harvest and Mojo brands the best)
- Avocado tacos (organic corn tortillas with sliced avocado, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper)
Best Hydration Options
Emphasize the latter two options if your workout was extra sweaty
Do Not Touch! Foods to Avoid Before and During Workouts
Unless you enjoy gastrointestinal distress…
- Raw almonds (Perhaps because of the fiber? Almonds may not be an issue for everyone, but consider yourself warned…)
- Sports drinks and protein shakes with artificial ingredients (Why fill your body with chemicals after all that hard work to get healthier?)
- Soy products like tofu and tempeh
- High-fiber foods in general
I hope you find this list helpful! I’ll continue updating this as Tyler and I experiment with different strength and endurance activities, and as we try new products that come into the market.