I’m an Olympian — My Favorite Snacks Before and After Working Out

  • I’m a Ghanaian track-and-field Olympian and semiprofessional athlete who loves to snack. 
  • Before workouts, I often snack on smoothies with yogurt, protein, and spinach or on oatmeal. 
  • After a session, I turn to protein shakes, sandwiches, and sushi. 

As a Ghanaian track-and-field Olympian and semiprofessional athlete, my workouts can last anywhere between two and four hours, so food is an important source of energy.

I work out in the morning most days, and I typically eat about an hour to an hour and a half before. My overall principle is finding snacks and foods that fit your schedule and body best.

I also recently switched to lighter, rehab-oriented workouts, so my snacks reflect that lower need for long-term fuel. 

Read on for my favorite snacks before and after my workouts.

Before I workout, I like to sip on smoothies packed with nutrients

hand holding fruit smoothie

I pack my smoothies with spinach, protein powder, and fruit.

Gemma Acheampong

I’ve never really been a smoothie person, but I’ve been experimenting with different combinations of fruits. I also love sneaking a bunch of healthy stuff in because it just gets disguised by the fruit. 

So far, my staples are a big spoonful of vanilla yogurt; a handful of spinach; scoops of protein powder, collagen powder, and creatine; and a spoonful of chia seeds. 

Smoothies are great before and after working out or even as a random treat during the day.

If I need a little more substance, I turn to breakfast sandwiches

hand holding an egg breakfast sandwich with avocado and meat

Shoving everything in a sandwich makes it super easy and portable.

Gemma Acheampong

My go-to breakfast sandwich has two fried eggs (I like the yolks to be slightly runny) bacon, tomato, avocado, and cheese.

I like how easy it is to eat everything in sandwich form, especially if I’m on the go. 

Oatmeal may seem boring, but it’s a classic pre-workout energizer

bowl of oatmeal with spoon

I turn to oatmeal when I don’t want to put a lot of effort into my food.

Gemma Acheampong

Oatmeal and Cream of Wheat are probably the most boring of all morning snacks, but they’re tried and true favorites.

Most days I don’t want to deal with the hassle of thinking about what to eat, so I just throw these in a pot, add some agave and a splash of milk, and I’m good to go. 

Oatmeal keeps me full for such a long time and lasts through my longest workouts. 

After my workouts, I pretty much always have a protein shake

collagen and protein powders on a kitchen counter

The protein shakes help me refuel after a workout.

Gemma Acheampong

After working out, I drink an obligatory protein shake with 2 1/2 scoops (about 60 grams) of protein. I usually also pair the shake with whatever fruit I have on hand. 

That gets me pretty full, so the rest of my post-workout snacks are often pretty light.

Energy bars are an easy post-workout snack

hand holding verb energy bar

I like the coconut-chai flavor.

Gemma Acheampong

I tried Verb energy bars on a whim a few months ago. The bar’s claim to fame is that they contain as much caffeine as espresso and only 90 calories.

I don’t really feel a kick of energy from them, but they’re tasty, small, and nice to stash in my backpack. My favorite flavor so far is coconut chai.

Sandwiches are easy to prepare ahead of time so they’re ready after my workouts

tuna salad sandwich on a plate

If I prepare tuna salad ahead of time, I can make several sandwiches.

Gemma Acheampong

Every now and then I plan ahead and make something light and easy for after workouts. I’m often tired and don’t want to think of what to eat, so future me relies heavily on what past me has prepared.

This week, I made tuna salad ahead of time, so I was able to throw together sandwiches for a couple of days. 

Sometimes I just eat whatever I’m craving after my workouts, like sushi

plate of sushi

I make my own sushi, but you can also buy it premade.

Gemma Acheampong

I was craving sushi this week, so I prepped everything to make homemade versions.

The hardest part is getting the ingredients ready, so I made sure to prep them the day before. After my workout, I just rolled and ate. 

I think sushi, when filled with veggies and protein, is a healthy post-workout snack that can be as filling as you need it to be. 

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