What to Eat and When to Eat it Guidelines

If you are workout out to lose weight or just get in shape what you eat and when you eat it will determine the results you see. If you want to maximize your workout efforts you need to make sure you are giving your body all the nutrition it needs. Your body needs the right nutrition to refuel, recover and rebuild after workouts. 

You'll find a lot of info out there on what might be a good pre or post workout meal. The truth is that what you eat should depend on what type of workout you are doing and the type of results you are looking to get. This are simple guidelines  ​to follow depending on the type of workout. 

Related: Best Food to Eat in the Morning for Weight Loss 

Good Workout Nutrition

 Every meals should be some combination of carbs, proteins, and even a little bit of healthy fats. ​

​Carbs

What? Carbs provide your body with the fuel it needs to get through your workout. When selecting carbs pick good carbs that are low on the glycemic index. They contain nutrients that your body needs. Avoid processed carbs that are high in sugar. This includes foods like white bread, white rice, and pre packaged snacks like granola bars. 

Good Examples: Whole grain foods, veggies, fresh fruits, beans​

When? The best time to eat carbs is 30 to 60 minutes before strength training or cardio. ​

Protein

What? Protein is essential to those who workout because it is needed to rebuild and repair muscle. This is how your muscles grow and strengthen. 

Good Examples: Nuts, tuna, greek yogurt

When? The best time to eat protein is right after your workout (within 30 minutes). Its best to have a good protein and carbohydrate mix after working out. One of the best ways to get these is with certain meal replacement shakes.  For strength training the recovery window to re fuel your body is up to 2 hours. 

Related: What the Difference Between Meal Replacement and Protein Shakes? 

​What to Eat for Cardio Workouts? 

​Pre-workout

If you are going to do a cardio workout your pre-workout meal should be 75-100% carbs. ​During your workout the most important thing is hydrations. Simply drinking pure water is the best way to keep hydrated. Here are a few meal ideas: 

  • Whole grain oats with sliced bananas, honey, blueberries and walnuts
  • Scrambled egg whites on whole wheat toast with avocado
  • A greek yogurt parfait with granola and berries
  • Fruit smoothie made with soy milk, ice, banana, and strawberries​
Post-Workout

After your cardio workout you will want to replenish your energy sources. This is best accomplished with a carb-rich snack or meal. Here are a couple good ideas: 

  • Whole wheat toast topped with peanut butter and sliced bananas
  • 1 cup of low fat milk and a banana

Related: Best Meal Replacement Shake for Women and Weight Loss

​What to Eat for Strength Training Workouts? 

​Pre-workout

If you are strength training your pre workout meal should by 75% carbs and 25% protein. The amount of protein will depend on your body weight, intensity of your workout and the workout length. 1 to 2 hours before your workout you should consume protein. This way your body will have a reserve that it can use after your session. Here are some great ideas for pre-workout meals: 

  • Egg white omelette with spinach and whole grain toast​ along with a glass of soy milk
  • Smoothie made with your choice of protein powder, flax seed, banana, and some peanut butter
  • Greek yogurt with banana and walnuts
Post-Workout

After a strength training workout they best thing to do is eat more protein! It is recommended that you eat a post workout meal or drink a protein shake within two hours of your workout. This way your body will have what it needs to recover and repair your muscle. If you fail to eat your body will actually start to break down muscle for energy.