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Smart Snacking for Exercise

Photography Randy Mayor \ Styling Melanie J. Clarke and Jan Gautro
What to eat before and after workouts to keep your energy levels high

If you keep these items in the cupboard and refrigerator, it will be easier to eat well before and after exercise. Stock up on foods that boast high-quality protein and complex carbohydrates and are low in fat.

Smart Snacks
Peanut butter
Hard-cooked eggs
String cheese
Frozen whole-grain waffles
Low-fat chocolate milk
Whole-grain cereal
Whole wheat crackers
Graham crackers
Fat-free or 1% low-fat milk
Low-fat yogurt
Dried fruit
Fig cookies
Sports bars
Almonds and other nuts

The Sports Bar
Sports bars are fine to keep in your gym bag or desk drawer for a quick snack. Just be sure to read the label, says Leslie Bonci, R.D., dietitian for the Pittsburgh Steelers. "Anything that's advertised as high-protein or low-carb isn't going to have enough carbohydrate and might have too much protein and fat to be appropriate before exercise." Some bars also pack as many calories as a small meal. Look for sports bars with fewer than 200 calories, about 25 to 30 grams of carbohydrates, 5 to 10 grams of protein, and less than 6 grams of fat.

Drink Up
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends consuming 16 ounces of fluid two hours before exercise and an additional 8 ounces 20 minutes before working out. For vigorous workouts, sip 4 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes during exercise. And drink 18 to 24 ounces of fluid within 30 minutes after your workout.