Make Your Own Pre-and-Post-Workout Meals And Save Money in the Process

What you eat before a workout is crucial for providing you with enough energy to train and boost your exercise performance. 

Pre-workout meals should contain a mixture of high-quality protein and carbohydrates to fuel the workout ahead. This meal should be eaten 1-2 hours pre-exercise and should be easy to digest to prevent you from feeling sick during the exercise session.

The following recipes are quick to prepare and contain quality sources of protein and whole-food carbohydrates. They’re suitable for prepping the night before and transporting chilled if needed – and the best bit? You’re saving money in the process.

Pre-workout meals

Cherry Ripe Shake

Serves 2

Preparation time: 5 minutes

This indulgent shake is one of the faster meal preps before a workout. You’ll get everything you need in a convenient portable drink that tastes like heaven and is easy to digest. You’ll also get a big hit of protein and improve your antioxidant intake for the day – berries and cacao powder have been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve heart health.


300ml milk (skim or full cream)

1 cup frozen cherries

½ cup frozen raspberries

1 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 scoop protein powder

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 banana


Blend all ingredients together. To serve, pour into two glasses and serve chilled. 

(Using skim milk)

Energy: 279 cal

Protein: 19g

Carbohydrate: 43g

Fat: 6g

cherry ripe smoothie

Peanut Butter Squares

Serves 16 (1 square = 1 serve)

Preparation time: 50 minutes

These delicious squares give an energy-packed protein hit. Forget about expensive processed protein bars, just make your own. Not only will two of these squares give you the protein you need before a workout, they also provide you with the essential fats and fibre you need to stay healthy and feel full.


½ cup milk

1 cup of smooth peanut butter

3 tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla essence

½ cup coconut flour or almond meal

1.5 cups rolled oats 


In a saucepan, add the milk, peanut butter, honey and vanilla. Stir on low heat until it forms a thick, sticky mass. Add the coconut flour and rolled oats to the mix and fold in thoroughly.

Remove from heat and press into a slice tray lined with baking paper. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Remove tray from fridge and cut into 16 even squares. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Eat chilled.

(Per square using skim milk)

Energy: 155 cal

Protein: 6g

Carbohydrate: 11g

Fat: 10g

Sweet Couscous with Strawberries and Almonds

Serves 2

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Pre-workout meals don’t have to be bland and boring to be healthy. It’s sometimes better to switch flavours from savoury to sweet to help you stick to healthier eating long term. This nutritiously sweet main meal will feel like you’re eating dessert, when in fact you’re fuelling your body with nutrients to help you train at your best.


100g instant couscous

1 tbsp stevia

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp flaked almonds

100ml boiling water

½ cup natural Greek yoghurt

1 scoop whey protein

6 sliced strawberries


In a saucepan, add the couscous, stevia, olive oil, cinnamon and almonds. Mix them together and pour boiling water on top. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Every 3 minutes, stir the mixture.

In a separate bowl, mix together the yoghurt and protein powder. After 10 minutes, break up the couscous with a fork and divide mixture into two serving bowls. Pour yoghurt mixture on top and sprinkle with strawberries. Serve warm or you can chill overnight.

Energy: 364 cal

Protein: 22g

Carbohydrate: 30g

Fat: 20g

Post-workout meals

Post-workout meals made from animal sources of protein containing B12, creatine and iron help replenish energy stores and the nutrients that are used up during training. This is especially useful if you need to back up the next day for another hard session.

Post-workout meals can help trigger the repair and growth of muscle tissue in a process called muscle protein synthesis. The amino acid leucine, found in higher amounts in animal and dairy products, is thought to help start this process.

Having enough carbohydrates in your post-workout meal is also just as important to replenish glycogen stores, as glycogen is responsible for fuelling muscle activity. Low glycogen stores can result in feeling fatigued, tired and a lack of concentration.

In addition, for those looking for serious muscle gains, carbohydrates post-training will promote insulin release. Insulin is responsible for transporting amino acids and carbohydrates into the muscle for repair, helping you recover quicker.

Chicken, Quinoa & Baby Spinach

Serves 2

Cooking time: 40 minutes

This salad is a convenient post-workout meal that can be prepped in advance if needed. Quinoa and sweet potato are great sources of low GI whole food carbohydrates that enable glycogen refuelling and keep you fuller for longer. This recipe is also gluten- free and lactose-free.


1 sweet potato

1 tbsp olive oil or as needed

220g chicken (breast or thigh) cut into strips

½ cup of quinoa

1 cup chicken stock

4 cups of baby spinach

Lemon juice


Peel the sweet potato and slice into chips. Place in a saucepan and cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer until softened. Drain sweet potato and let sit.

In a non-stick frying pan, add oil and fry chicken strips until golden brown. Meanwhile, place quinoa into a pot with chicken stock. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Keep checking the quinoa, occasionally stirring to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pot. If needed, add extra water. When softened, remove from heat and place in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.

In a bowl, mix the sweet potato, cooked chicken, quinoa, baby spinach and lemon juice together. Serve warm or chilled.

Energy: 316 cal

Protein: 41g

Carbohydrate: 34g

Fat: 3g

chicken quinoa

Chorizo Baked Eggs

serves 2

Cooking time: 20 minutes

This recipe gives you a taste of Spain in your own home. It’s a delicious high-protein dish with the option of adding carbohydrates if you need them. You can prepare it in bulk using a deep-dish ovenproof pan. This recipe freezes and chills well, too.


1 tbsp olive oil

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 chorizo sausage, thinly sliced

1 chicken sausage, thinly sliced

1 red capsicum, diced

50g baby spinach leaves

2 eggs

1 cup cooked steamed rice (optional)


Preheat oven to 220°C. Heat oil in a frypan over moderate heat. Add onion to the pan when hot and stir until almost soft. Add sausages and capsicum and cook for 2 minutes, until browned. Add the spinach and stir for 1 minute, until wilted.

Spoon the mixture into two separate ovenproof dishes. Using the back of a spoon, make two small indents in the top. Crack an egg into each dent. Bake for 8 minutes, until egg whites have set and yolk is cooked to your liking.

Serve warm. This dish can be served with rice if needed.

(With rice)

Energy: 357 cal

Protein: 20g

Carbohydrate: 32g

Fat: 17g

backed chorizo eggs

Couscous, Goat’s Cheese and Avocado Salad

Serves 2

Cooking time: 20 minutes

This post-workout meal is a great high-protein vegetarian option for those who don’t want to eat meat. It’s an all-in-one meal where you can get your recommended intake of vegetables and vitamins B12 and E. This meal can be prepared in advance and stored chilled or frozen.


2 eggs

100g instant couscous

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

100ml boiling water

1 cup rocket

100g of goat’s cheese, chopped

1 avocado, sliced

½ cup parsley, chopped


Hard boil the eggs and allow to cool slightly before removing shells. Slice into thin rounds.

In another saucepan, combine the couscous, olive oil, vinegar and boiling water. Let the couscous sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir the mixture every 3 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss the rocket, goat’s cheese, avocado and parsley. Season to taste.

To serve, divide the couscous into two serving bowls. Place the salad mixture on top with egg slices. Serve chilled or warm.

Energy: 532 cal

Protein: 21g

Carbohydrate: 26g

Fat: 39g

Cous Cous SaladThis article first appeared in Fitness First magazine.

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