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.

A woman running in the evening

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.

James says...

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.

Day 1

Maintenance breakfast – Crab & asparagus omelette

A crab and asparagus omelette in a pan

Get the recipe: Crab & asparagus omelette

Morning maintenance snack – Spicy roast chickpeas

Roast chickpeas on a baking tray

Get the recipe: Spicy roast chickpeas

Fuelling lunch – Chickpea & coriander burgers with a Greek salad

Chickpea burgers

Get the recipes: Chickpea & coriander burgers and Greek salad

Afternoon fuelling snack – Pear, nut & blackberry bircher

Pear and blackberry bircher

Get the recipe: Pear, nut & blackberry bircher

Fuelling dinner – Mexican chicken stew with quinoa & beans

Chicken and tomato stew with quinoa and beans

Get the recipe: Mexican chicken stew with quinoa & beans

Day 2

Maintenance breakfast – Melting tomato & basil omelette

Tomato and basil omelette

Get the recipe: Melting tomato & basil omelette

Morning maintenance snack – Sweet & spicy nuts

A jar of sweet and spicy mixed nuts

Get the recipe: Sweet & spicy nuts

Fuelling lunch – Quinoa salad with grilled halloumi

A plate of quinoa salad topped with halloumi

Get the recipe: Quinoa salad with grilled halloumi

Afternoon fuelling snack – Healthier flapjacks

A flapjack on a wooden board

Get the recipe: Healthier flapjacks

Fuelling dinner – Moroccan chicken with sweet potato mash

Sweet potato mash topped with chicken breast

Get the recipe: Moroccan chicken with sweet potato mash

Day 3

Maintenance breakfast – Herb omelette with fried tomatoes

Herb omelette with fried tomatoes

Get the recipe: Herb omelette with fried tomatoes

Maintenance snack – Nutty cinnamon & yogurt dipper

Yogurt and cinnamon dip with fruit and celery sticks

Get the recipe: Nutty cinnamon & yogurt dipper

Fuelling lunch – Smoked mackerel, orange & couscous salad

Smoked mackerel and couscous salad

Get the recipe: Smoked mackerel, orange & couscous salad

Afternoon fuelling snack – Energy bites

Energy bites in a bowl

Get the recipe: Energy bites

Fuelling dinner – Thai prawn & ginger noodles

Thai-style noodles with vegetables and prawns

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 the author of The Energy Plan, published by Penguin. For more information and to find a stockist, visit www.penguin.co.uk.

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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