July 18, 2021

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition…As a Retired Athlete

I get this question all the time…”Do I still need to eat before and after I workout even when I retire?”

The simple answer? Yes! You absolutely should continue to prioritize pre and post-workout fuel when you retire.

But as with everything in nutrition, it’s more complex than that.

A common thing I hear from former athletes is “my workouts aren’t that hard anymore so I don’t really need to eat before or after I workout”.

I’m calling BS! For several reasons.

First, as former athletes, we often underestimate how intense our workouts actually are because they don’t compare to what we did while training. That doesn’t mean they aren’t still hard workouts and that our body doesn’t need (and deserve) proper fueling. It does.

I had a client recently tell me “I don’t understand why I am so hungry, I just did a simple 7-mile run, it barely counted”.

And herein lies the issue: we don’t recognize our workouts as “counting” as workouts and requiring fuel. As a result, we don’t refuel as needed. And then we get hungry because we aren’t fueled. And then we overeat and feel guilty later on…Sound familiar?

So what do we do?

First things first, you don’t have to be as strict with your pre and post-workout nutrition as you did when you were competing (unless you’re training for a marathon or some other race like that as many of my clients are. Then let’s chat).

Things can be less rigid! Yay!

For example:

1) Instead of refueling within 20-30 minutes, it’s okay if it’s a little longer after your workout before you eat! We often aren’t hungry post-workout. If it’s longer than 30 minutes before you eat, it’s totally fine. Not a make or break.

2) You may not need as large of pre-post workout fueling snacks either. Sure, maybe you don’t need quite as much as you once did, but you still need to refuel!

The same nutrition science applies in retirement as it did when we were competing!

  • Pre-workout: carbs

  • Post-workout: carbs + protein (if it’s not that magical 3:1 carbs to protein ratio, it’s cool! Retirement perks, am I right?)

Something I’ve found in food freedom is that I LOVE bagels! They are the perfect pre-workout fuel for me!

Something I’ve found in food freedom is that I LOVE bagels! They are the perfect pre-workout fuel for me!

Here are some of my favorite pre and post-workout fueling options in retirement!


  • Banana (yep…a whole one is fine!)

  • Pretzels

  • Crackers

  • Toast/Bagels (with or without cream cheese)

  • Applesauce

  • Dates

  • Granola


My FAVORITE post-workout re-fuel smoothie! Add chocolate chips because…why not!

My FAVORITE post-workout re-fuel smoothie! Add chocolate chips because…why not!

  • My go-to is a PB Banana Smoothie!

    • 1 whole frozen banana

    • Scoop of peanut butter

    • Scoop of greek yogurt

    • Scoop of protein powder/collagen (optional)

    • Milk of choice

    • Cinnamon

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

  • Chocolate milk (the OG when it comes to post-workout fuel)

  • Greek yogurt parfait

    • Greek yogurt of choice

    • Fruit of choice (I love fresh strawberries)

    • Peanut Butter

    • Flax Seed

    • Granola/cheerios/rice Chex for crunch


Here’s probably the biggest difference! Unless you’re sweating an insane amount (taking a heated class like the ones I teach) or working out over an hour, water is probably enough. You can absolutely still drink sports drinks, but they may not be necessary like they once were when training outside, in the heat, for hours on end.

Another bonus of retirement? You can try new things! Never used to eat before practice? Maybe try having something before a workout in retirement and see if it makes a difference! Avoided peanut butter because it was “high fat”? Spoon it into your smoothie and enjoy!

So, yes, you do still need to prioritize pre and post-workout nutrition. Your body STILL NEEDS FUEL! But it’s okay if it looks different than it once did. It doesn’t have to be as rigid, and I think that’s some beautiful freedom right there!

Struggling with food as a former athlete? Grab my e-book THE POWER BUNDLE created JUST to help former athletes learn to fuel for life after sport, without any food-related guilt.

Or, snag your spot inside The FUELED Former Athlete Academy!


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