This depends on a few things. If you exercise first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon, you could quickly follow up with a healthy breakfast or dinner. If your workout is during non-meal time, it's best to have something to replenish your muscle carbohydrate stores (called glycogen) with a little bit of protein for muscle repair and synthesis. Research shows that eating foods with a combination of carbohydrates and protein is best (4:1 ratio) for recovery. Here are some examples:
Whole wheat toast with peanut butter
Fruit with nuts and seeds (trail mix)
Apple with nut butter
Fruit smoothie with added protein
Yogurt topped with nuts
Chocolate milk (research has shown this to be a great recovery drink)
Granola/protein bar with the right combination of carb and protein
For more on what to eat before, during and after exercise, see this WebMD article.
Protein!! Most protein shakes are specifically formulated for post workout fuel and also contain other useful ingredients for your muscles and recovery. If you want food, cottage cheese, tuna, oatmeal, peanut butter are good examples.
You do need to eat before two hours... it is good unless it's liquid item then 1hr is sufficient. As for the hunger after exercising out, you will always get hunger
after even if you ate before. You burn a lot of calories
when you workout and your body wants more. It's fine to eat after you
workout. That's one of the few times that carbs are okay. After I
workout I drink a carb drink that's 400 calories and 100 carbs. And then
I drink my protein shake after that.
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