What to Eat When Working Out to Lose Weight


Ultimately, what you eat before, during and after your exercise regimen can dictate your success or failure in reaching your fitness goals. But many people are unsure what to eat when working out to lose weight.

Nutritionists and health experts usually recommend quality carbs before exercising, and lean proteins after.

Food intake should complement your exercise routine, so here’s everything you need to know:


Professor Nancy Cohen at the department of nutrition in the University of Massachusetts recommends eating about an hour to four hours before working out. Carbohydrates should be consumed, but not a lot. According to her, if you are planning to work out for more than an hour, ideally 1-4 grams of carbohydrates should be consumed for every 2.2 lbs of body weight.


She added, “By eating carbohydrate-rich foods that are low in fat and low or moderate in protein, you can make sure you have enough muscle glycogen as fuel for your physical activity. This might include low-fat granola bars, fig bars, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, banana, yogurt, pasta or other high-carbohydrate foods,”

Cohen emphasized the importance of staying hydrated and recommended drinking about 5 to 10 milliliters of water per kg of body weight 2-4 hours prior to exercising.

She cautioned, however, about exercising on an empty stomach; explaining that the body needs carbs for energy. In the absence of it, the body will break down fats for the energy that it needs. The breakdown of fats can lead to ketosis which can cause dizziness and fatigue and may harm the kidneys in the long run.

If you are tired or fatigued, you can’t exercise efficiently since you can’t sustain it.


Stuart Phillips, director of the McMaster Center for Nutrition, Exercise, and Health Research, recommends liquids instead of solid food during workout. He explained that solid food “sits in your stomach” and many people find it uncomfortable.

Cohen also stresses the importance of proper hydration, adding that 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour should be the goal for endurance exercises that lasts for a couple of hours, as it provides enough to fuel the exercise. However, for workouts that would take less than 45 minutes, you just might need fluids to keep you going.

“Juices, sports drinks, granola bars, fruit and other high-carbohydrate foods and drinks can be helpful,” she added.


Phillips recommends the three R’s after your exercise routine: rehydrate with fluids, refuel with carbohydrates and repair with protein.

He added, “I like sources that provide all three, like fluid milk or a smoothie made from milk and yogurt with berries.”

According to Cohen, “After long or very high-intensity workouts, consuming 1 to 1.2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight per hour for four to six hours, along with 15 to 25 grams of protein within the first hour after exercise, will replenish muscle glycogen stores as well as support muscle protein synthesis.”

She added that lighter work outs call for well-balanced meals and enough fluids to replenish losses.

Source: CNN

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