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What To Eat When Doing A Workout

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What To Eat When Doing A Workout?

How many times a week do you work out? Exercise or working out plays a vital role in our daily energy expenditure. It is really important to look at not only what you are eating every day in terms of the EatWell guide (your everyday plate) but also for what you are eating before and after exercise to improve performance and body composition.

What Is On Your “Everyday Plate”?

You can enhance your food choices by establishing habits and routines that can lead to an improvement in calorie control, nutrient timing and food selections. Before we focus on your exercise food plate, it is important to make sure your everyday food choices are near optimum. The everyday meal choices are the food and drink choices you make when you aren’t exercising, or for those that don’t exercise regular it is your everyday plate. Our blog on “your everyday plate” we show how you can make healthier food choices to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.

Eat Protein Dense Foods With Each Meal

By eating protein dense foods with each meal, you will stimulate your metabolism, improve your muscle mass and recovery and help to reduce your body fat. The demands for protein increases when you are exercising regularly and the amounts you need to eat changes depending on the type of exercise you are doing and for how long you do it for. This increase in demand can last up to 24 hours after exercising and there is a shift towards muscle breakdown. Therefore, it is important to eat protein as soon as possible after exercising during this increased demand. It is essential to ensure you are eating adequate amounts of protein per meal: 20-30g for women and 40-60g for men.

Carbohydrates For Fat Loss And Maintenance

Energy for workouts comes from a mixture of blood glucose from carbohydrate rich meals eaten before exercise and glycogen stored in the liver and muscles from carbohydrate rich meals eaten days before. Carbohydrates are essential for providing energy to fuel exercise. You may have heard of “carb loading”, where individuals consume large amounts of carbohydrates before exercise to provide the body with enough energy for the workout ahead. It is important to eat carbohydrates before but additionally after exercise which a lot of people can be unaware of. HIT (high intensity training) workouts are extremely popular and it is important to eat carbohydrates immediately after strenuous exercise sessions such as HIT workouts as it will help to build up the glycogen stores that have been depleted during exercise. Additionally, the process of rebuilding and repairing of muscles can be stimulated by eating carbohydrates as the increase in insulin stimulates the uptake of amino acids which are the building blocks of protein.

Eat Healthy Fats Daily

It is important when optimising your health, performance and body composition that you have the correct balance between the different types of fats you can consume. It is recommended to have a balance of saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, giving a third of your recommended intake to each fat group. After working out, the recommendation to increase your carbohydrates will result in a reduction in fats to balance out.

Example For Meals And Snacks For Individuals For Exercise


  • Porridge with low fat milk and fresh fruit
  • Muesli (no added sugar) or wholegrain cereal with low fat milk and fresh fruit
  • Wholegrain or granary toast with peanut or other nut butter alternatives
  • 2 slices of wholemeal toast with scrambled eggs and a grilled tomato
  • Low fat Greek or natural yoghurt with banana, berries and cereal (e.g. oats)


  • Baked potato with tuna and salad
  • Eggs of choice on wholemeal toast with vegetables
  • Chicken and salad sandwich (wholemeal bread or wrap)
  • Lentil and vegetable soup with whole wheat roll
  • Couscous or quinoa salad with chicken, roasted vegetables and kale


  • Wholemeal pasta with grilled chicken and vegetables in a tomato-based sauce
  • Chilli con carne – lean mince, kidney beans, chopped tomatoes and brown rice
  • Salmon with boiled new potatoes and vegetables
  • Stir fry – whole wheat noodles, lean meat (chicken, turkey or beef), tofu or prawns and vegetables


  • Fruit
  • Vegetable sticks with hummus
  • Low fat fruit yoghurt
  • Unsalted nuts / seeds
  • Oatcakes with peanut butter



Article written by Jade Mottley.

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