Fuel to Move!

Posted by Lindsey Davis on 08/07/2019


Registered dietitians are typically known as the “food and nutrition experts.” Here on the blog, topics usually center around food, nutrients, weight, eating habits, etc. But did you know that dietitians have a knowledge about exercise as well? I do want to be clear though, that registered dietitians are not exercise experts. We are not exercise physiologists, personal trainers and those of the like. But we do have a general knowledge of physical activity and understand the importance of implementing physical activity into a person’s life to not only achieve and maintain a healthy weight but attain an overall sense of wellbeing.

There are many different types of exercises. Examples include but are not limited to: aerobic, strength training, low intensity, high intensity, stretching, interval and circuit training. As a clinician, it’s important to assess your patient or client’s current views towards exercise, current exercise habits and his/her attitude towards increasing physical activity (if deemed appropriate). Promoting increased physical activity should be in line with the person’s ability and affinity as well as within their desired schedule. Keep in mind we want to work within our scope of practice so if a patient/client is wanting a specific exercise regimen, it would be best to refer them to a local exercise specialist to meet those needs.

One of the best ways we can help our patients/clients as they embark on an increased physical activity journey is to educate them on how to properly fuel their body for that exercise. A simple education on pre and post exercise foods will be immensely helpful to them. Here are a few tips to communicate to them during this time.


1) Overall, it’s important to utilize the “buddy system”- that being carbs + protein. Balanced meals and snacks will help keep a person fueled and satisfied not only through an exercise period but the rest of the day as well.

2) Pre Exercise: Utilize the “buddy system,” but focus more on the carbohydrates. Examples of good pre exercise snacks include a banana with 2 TB peanut butter, ½ cup grapes with one stick of string cheese, or a yogurt parfait with fresh berries and granola.

3) Post Exercise: Utilize the “buddy system,” but focus more on the protein. Examples of good post exercise snacks include 1 piece of fruit with a handful of nuts, whole grain wrap with turkey/cheese/veggies, or 1 piece of whole wheat toast with 2 scrambled egg whites.

Again, these are just examples and the specific amounts of each food will be determined by you (the RD) for each patient/client to help meet their individual estimated needs and health goals. Remember to be specific and incorporate his/her personal food preferences to ensure compliance and sustainability! Head on over to the recipe page for an example of a great pre OR post exercise snack!