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Fueling Your Fitness Goals

June 12, 2019 by Ginger Hultin MS RDN

A lot of people ask why I became a dietitian. I’m obsessed with being a nutritionist and I actually came to it a bit later in my life; a ‘second career’. The reason for this incredible career came out of necessity and ethics actually. I wanted to share my story with you below but in short, my history as a trainer and in the fitness industry really fueled my passion for helping my clients with nutrition for fitness. If you’re interested in fueling your fitness goals for optimal workouts and to feel amazing, you’re in the right place. 

As a younger person, I was a personal trainer at a big Seattle gym years ago. I loved working with my clients and I believe deeply in the power of physical activity but trainers had to meet sales goals selling supplements. My manager told me to put “nutritionist” on my business cards because “anyone can say they are one”. I remember feeling so uncomfortable, barely making it through the script we were required to sell people on multivitamins and other energy enhancers. After failing to meet my goals a couple months in a row and seeing trainers doling out nutrition advice to their clients, I just knew that it wasn’t sitting well with me. I remember thinking that nutrition for fitness sounded so interesting but knowing that I didn’t have any training in the subject. That’s right all – people without any training at all are in the market of selling you nutrition advice. I knew it was wrong so I started looking into what it takes to actually know about nutrition.

The answer is that it takes years of professional medical training, a degree in nutrition, hours of supervised practice and a nationally certified exam. So I started the long, slow process to gettingall my prerequisites in chemistry, anatomy and physiology and psychology. I got into the masters program at Bastyr University and I spent two years there doing a deep, deep dive into the science of nutrition. I moved across the country to Chicago to train at a huge VA hospital – a year of supervised practice with a variety of registered dietitians in clinical, community and food service settings. I’m so, so proud of what I’ve done and I am 100% confident now that I can talk supplements, I can help with your disease state, I can make you feel better and I can definitely talk fueling your fitness goals.

So, here I am, getting back to my roots! Not surprisingly, I do a lot of interviews about this and I talk a lot about it with my clients. For many (not for all), talking about fitness is a critical piece of their health and I’m happy to go there with most of my clients depending on their needs and interest.

Pre-workout Fuel

Now, when it comes to the moments leading up to a workout, you want to make sure your body has all the energy it needs so you can really put your all into it. This means that at least 30 minutes to an hour before you know you will work out it’s important to eat a nourishing snack and check that you are adequately hydrated. Some key nutrients to consider when you are selecting your ideal pre-workout snack:

  • Water, water, water. Dehydration can affect your energy levels and your body’s ability to regulate its body temperature during a workout. 
  • Complex carbohydrates are the main focus as they provide the glucose (blood sugar) that creates energy for your muscles and brain. Examples include fresh, frozen or dried fruit (opt for unsweetened to avoid the added sugar) such as bananas, dates, and mango; and whole grains such as whole wheat toast, whole grain oats, nuts, and brown rice. 
  • While healthy fats are important, they are also quite fillingo you don’t want to overdo it pre-workout. If you would like to include a fat in your pre-workout just be sure you wait 1 ½ -2 hours before you exercise to allow for digestion. Healthy fats include nut butter, such as peanut or almond and cheese. 
  • Protein should be included in your pre-workout snack but it is important to select easily digestible, light protein sources. Nuts, seeds and soy milk are a few examples of protein sources you can include.  

Overall, you want it to be something that is easy to grab and eat on the go, tastes good, and fuels your body. Opt for a carbohydrate focused, light snack at least 30 to 45 minutes before your workout to maximize energy. If you are in a pinch for time, a piece of whole fruit can be an easy, quick fix to get the job done. 

Post-workout Fuel

What and when you eat post-workout is also important as part of fueling your body properly to reach your goals. In order to replenish your tired muscles (so they grow back stronger) and restore energy in your body it is critical to include a balanced combination of protein and carbohydrates food sources and drink adequate amounts of water. If you prefer to eat a meal after a workout, rather than a snack, that is great too as long as it is within 60 minutes of your workout you are good to go!

On the Blog: More on Fitness

I’m still really into fitness, myself. I have blog posts for you about my journey:

I love the group fitness aspect. Not everyone does but it worked for me. I’m on to F45 now in Seattle – a HIIT-based circuit workout and all in 45 minutes. Shorter is best for me and my schedule. I’d love to know what you’ve tried lately and what you’re passionate about with your fitness.

Articles for you on Fueling Your Fitness Goals

If you need more specifics about your nutrition for fitness questions, I’m interviewing about it all the time – I’ve got you! Here are some of my favorites. I’m featuring these and many more on my facebook and my twitter accounts so please follow me there to stay part of the conversation:

King 5 TV – pre and post-workout snacks

Runner’s World – how to calm stomach upset while running

Reader’s Digest – weight loss myths busted!

Prevention– carb cycling for exercise

Men’s Health– fueling pre-workouts

Please let me know what you think in the comments! I’d love to hear your questions about physical activity. If you want to better understand how to fuel your workouts or even how to find your passion around working out, hit me up and see if working together might make a wonderful difference in your life.

And please sign up for my newsletter so that you can follow along with important topics like this one in the future!


  1. Mia Howell on October 10, 2020 at 7:31 pm

    This is so helpful! I haven’t put much thought into what I eat before and after working out, but I am definitely going to start now per your recommendations.

    • Ginger Hultin on October 12, 2020 at 11:31 am

      Perfect! I hope this makes a big difference in your life!

  2. Rehoboth on April 15, 2023 at 3:40 am

    Awesome post

    • Ginger Hultin on April 20, 2023 at 9:31 am

      Thanks! Appreciate you stopping by 🙂

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Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO

Integrative nutrition specialist helping clients navigate complex health conditions to reduce inflammation and feel better.

Thanks for visiting! If you're struggling with a cancer diagnosis, autoimmune condition, gut health problems, or even a medical mystery, nutrition can make a HUGE difference in your day-to-day life. I run a virtual, concierge private practice where I partner with my clients over time to help them improve their health through nutrition. Be sure to visit the blog for easy, plant-based, anti-inflammatory recipes and our "Resources" page for a variety of self-paced programs, books, e-books, and nutrition podcast episodes.

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