Medically reviewed by
Natalie Bessom, D.O. Board-certified family medicine doctor with specialty training in nutrition, USA
Learn what to eat to fuel your thyroid health and muscles pre and post-workout.
Everyone knows that working out and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is important for both physical and mental health. If you suffer from hypothyroidism, however, finding not only the motivation but the energy to work out can be a challenge itself. However, finding the right thyroid fuel can help boost your motivation and energy.
The key to developing and maintaining a regular exercise routine is to ensure the proper nutrients are improving your body overall and your thyroid health.
Aside from what you eat pre and post-workout, it’s important to make sure you choose the right activity for you. Find something that you enjoy doing – walking, hiking, swimming, or yoga, for example. For people suffering from a thyroid condition, it is best to perform a low-impact exercise in order to reduce the risk of injury and pain. Beginner exercises for thyroid patients include:
- Elliptical or exercise
- Resistance Bands
- Water aerobics
If you don’t choose an activity that you enjoy doing, it will be hard for you to keep up with the routine.
What, when, and why should I eat before my workout?
Before working out, it is extremely important to make sure your body is fuelled with the right energy to 1) get you through your workout and 2) receive the full benefits of a workout. If you start exercising without the proper nutrients – it will be like driving your car with an empty tank of gas. By feeding your body with the right nutrients you’ll be able to have a more effective workout.
Besides thinking about what to eat, it’s important to think about when to eat too. Ideally, you should be eating 1-3 hours before your workout for your body to digest the nutrients. After all, trying to do laps around the pool on a full stomach won’t be very comfortable for you.
Carbohydrates are a great energy source and also your muscles’ favorite. Try eating foods such as:
- Banana and Peanut Butter
- Oatmeal and fresh fruit
- Apple and nuts like almonds
The reason you want to eat more carbohydrates, instead of proteins and fats, is that they are easier for our body to digest. Therefore, eating too much protein or fat before a workout will cause your body to use more energy to digest the foods rather than putting the energy towards your workout.
Should I have sports drinks instead of water?
After conducting research, experts found that most people do not work out hard enough to require the colorful blue drinks. Though sports drinks help replace carbohydrates and electrolytes; they are not necessary for the average gym-goer. Most sports drinks contain a very high amount of sugar and sodium, which is counterproductive and could actually be working against your workout and negatively impact your thyroid health. Good old-fashioned water is your best source of hydration for your thyroid health post-workout.
I’ve finished my workout. What now?
Post-workout is probably the most important part of your workout routine. Your results come from how well your body recovers from your workout. You not only want to ensure you’re replenishing your muscles with the right nutrients but simultaneously helping your thyroid health.
When working out, your muscles break down and use up glycogen – the body’s preferred source of energy. Glycogen is essentially a compound that is stored in your muscles and tissues to store carbohydrates.
Post-workout, your body is going to try to build and restore its glycogen supply as fast as possible, as well as repair and build muscle. Eating the correct nutrients post-workout can help your body get these tasks done at a more efficient rate and support your overall thyroid health.
Recent research shows that exercising increases your body’s immune system – especially if you eat properly post-workout. Just like your pre-workout meal, it is important to eat at the correct time after your exercise to maximize the benefits. Experts say that you should consume your post-workout meal within 45 minutes.
To repair & build muscle:
Functional carbohydrates and proteins such as sweet potatoes and eggs will help kickstart the repair and build muscles. Eating an adequate amount of carbohydrates will also help your body replenish its glycogen stores. Eating foods such as:
will help with muscle healing as well and decrease inflammation which in turn will help ease your thyroid health and help decrease thyroid flare ups.
To restore fluids and electrolytes:
Electrolytes are salts and minerals – like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium – in the body that maintain fluid balance and blood pressure. Additionally, those minerals are key in maintaining your thyroid health.
- Coconut water
- Fresh fruit smoothies
are all ways to help replenish fluids and electrolytes in your body. Bananas are always recommended as they are rich in potassium – again, a thyroid-boosting nutrient.
Regardless of fitness goals – be it losing weight, building lean muscle, or just maintaining a healthy active lifestyle – what you fuel your body before and after your workout is just as important as the workout itself.
Maintaining a healthy active lifestyle through daily exercise is an important part of managing thyroid health. Exercise alone cannot address the root cause of thyroid conditions but after properly identifying and addressing your thyroid issues, it will be easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
If you want to better manage your symptoms, moods, energy levels, and weight changes, download our ThyForLife app to get a head start on your thyroid health. ThyForLife is an integrated thyroid solution right at your fingertips. With the ThyForLife app you can:
- Chart your bloodwork
- Customize your medication schedule & reminders
- Track and understand your symptoms and weight changes
- Join a global thyroid community
Here at ThyForLife, we do our utmost to provide accurate information. If you require more detailed information regarding medical terms, please consult your thyroid doctor.