Before getting into the knitty - gritty on pre/post-workout snacks, first we need to determine what time of day you workout. Is the pre-workout snack necessary? Especially if you are trying to eat well and stop snacking habits?
A pre-workout snack is not usually necessary for a good workout. But of course that depends on the time of day you exercise.
If at all possible you want to exercise when you have the most energy. This could be the difference between burning 400 calories and 600 calories:
400 calories = I went through the motions of my workout
600 calories = I killed it during that workout
You can push yourself more if you have the energy. For intense workouts, especially when you push that anaerobic phase (anaerobic = the bur-pee you are cursing at or the point you have a hard time breathing = the good stuff that increases your fitness level), your body depends on glycogen. Carbohydrates, refuel your glycogen stores. These carbohydrates break down into smaller sugars after eaten and are used as energy. What is not used, is stored in the muscles as glycogen, when the muscles are full, it gets stored as fat.
So how do you properly prepare your body for working out? AKA pre-workout snack
First Thing in the Morning: You can go on an empty stomach, half an apple, banana or one cup of juice. (BTW I do not usually recommend juice since it can be a lot of empty calories, but it is just enough to amp up your glycogen storage for a tough workout).
Late Morning: After the kids are off to school and you have had breakfast, this is probably one of the best times for your body to workout.
Lunch: Well, this is a hard one. More than likely you will have to schedule your lunch after your workout. Try not to add an extra snack prior to the workout.
Late Afternoon: For all you moms that fall off the bandwagon about this time of day (I used to do it!), this could be the best time for you. Just like late morning, it is one of the best times for your body to workout. Your lunch is settled and glycogen stores are full of energy. It also helps get rid of that afternoon slump.
Evening: For working moms, I recommend the evening workout before you pickup your kids (if this is possible), otherwise it just might not fit in your evening schedule. For Stay-AT-Home-Mom’s (SAHM), I recommend the workout after you get the kids to bed; it will keep you on good behavior at dinner!
*Pregnant or Breastfeeding: Make sure you eat a snack of protein and carbohydrates within the hour. Some great snacks for example are: apple with peanut butter, milk and a slice of bread, yogurt and almonds.
So do you need a pre-workout snack?
Since glycogen is stored in the body, you are able to workout first thing in the morning. And since most of us are not professional triathletes, our workouts can usually sustain the stored glycogen, theoretically. But I will say, try it out. See what works for you, your schedule and your energy. And yes, there will be days that you have no energy no matter what and that is because you are a mom with 30 different jobs.
Ideally a pre-workout snack is adding extra calories that you normally would not have consumed. But on the flipside if your energy is lacking halfway through your workout it could be because you are low on fuel. My rule = 1 piece of fruit can go a long way.
Do you need a post-workout snack?
As a female, not usually, if your goal is weight loss. Unless it is time for your 1-2 snacks per day.