What should I eat if I exercise in the evening?
Discover a three-day meal plan, chosen by performance nutritionist James Collins, to keep up energy levels throughout the day and fuel an evening workout.
If you exercise in the late afternoon or evening, it can be difficult to know what to eat before and after your workout – and throughout the day – in order to fuel your fitness and keep your energy levels high. We asked James Collins, author of The Energy Plan, to put together an exclusive meal plan from our recipes.
For this meal plan, we've focused on a medium day (a single-session training day) – for example, if you go for a run in the evening after work. A medium day is made up of:
- Two 'fuelling' meals
- One 'maintenance' meal
- Two snacks (one 'fuelling', one 'maintenance')
Read our guide to James's Energy Plan to learn more about what counts as a 'fuelling' and 'maintenance' meal or snack.
When training in the evening, the priority is to make sure the muscles are fuelled before training and recovered after (especially if it is a hard training session). If it’s a hard session, you need to ignore the old wives’ tales about eating carbs late, as you will need them to refuel your muscles. If it's a light training session, you don't need to worry as much.
You will also see that as you are increasing your fuelling later in the day the maintenance meal is now taken for breakfast and, if a morning snack is required, it should be a maintenance snack.
Do I have to eat two snacks each day?
We've included two snacks for each day in the meal plan to give you more options around your training sessions. If you prefer to take just one, that’s fine too.
Maintenance breakfast – Crab & asparagus omelette
Get the recipe: Crab & asparagus omelette
Morning maintenance snack – Spicy roast chickpeas
Get the recipe: Spicy roast chickpeas
Fuelling lunch – Chickpea & coriander burgers with a Greek salad
Afternoon fuelling snack – Pear, nut & blackberry bircher
Get the recipe: Pear, nut & blackberry bircher
Fuelling dinner – Mexican chicken stew with quinoa & beans
Get the recipe: Mexican chicken stew with quinoa & beans
Maintenance breakfast – Melting tomato & basil omelette
Get the recipe: Melting tomato & basil omelette
Morning maintenance snack – Sweet & spicy nuts
Get the recipe: Sweet & spicy nuts
Fuelling lunch – Quinoa salad with grilled halloumi
Get the recipe: Quinoa salad with grilled halloumi
Afternoon fuelling snack – Healthier flapjacks
Get the recipe: Healthier flapjacks
Fuelling dinner – Moroccan chicken with sweet potato mash
Get the recipe: Moroccan chicken with sweet potato mash
Maintenance breakfast – Herb omelette with fried tomatoes
Get the recipe: Herb omelette with fried tomatoes
Maintenance snack – Nutty cinnamon & yogurt dipper
Get the recipe: Nutty cinnamon & yogurt dipper
Fuelling lunch – Smoked mackerel, orange & couscous salad
Get the recipe: Smoked mackerel, orange & couscous salad
Afternoon fuelling snack – Energy bites
Get the recipe: Energy bites
Fuelling dinner – Thai prawn & ginger noodles
Get the recipe: Thai prawn & ginger noodles
Keep the momentum
Maintaining a consistent medium day structure, as outlined in the three-day plan above, is an important first step to maintaining your energy levels at work, home or during a workout. You can then assess how your body is responding and refine your energy plan. My book, The Energy Plan, explains how to monitor your progess and what to eat on days when you exercise more or less.
James Collins is recognised as a leading Performance Nutritionist through his work with Olympic and professional sport. Over the last decade he has worked with Arsenal FC, England and France national football teams and Team GB. Previously elected President of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Food and Health Forum, he has a private practice in Harley Street where he sees business executives, performing artists and clients from all walks of life: www.jamescollinsnutrition.com.
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