Unsaturated fats may help reduce inflammation and provide calories.
While fat is a primary fuel for aerobic exercise, we have plenty stored in the body to fuel even the longest workouts. However, getting healthy unsaturated fats helps to provide essential fatty acids and calories to keep you moving.
Healthy options include:
- oils, such as olive oil
Fuel up before exercise
When it comes to fueling up before or after a workout, it’s important to achieve the right balance of carbs and protein. Pre-workout snacks that combine carbohydrates with protein can make you feel more energized than junk foods made from simple sugars and lots of fat.
Consider stocking your workout bag and refrigerator with some of these simple snacks:
Bananas are full of potassium and magnesium, which are important nutrients to get on a daily basis. Eating a banana can help replenish these minerals while providing natural sugars to fuel your workout. For added protein, enjoy your banana with a serving of peanut butter.
Berries, grapes, and oranges
These fruits are all full of vitamins, minerals, and water. They’re easy on your intestines, give you a quick boost of energy, and help you stay hydrated. Consider pairing them with a serving of yogurt for protein.
Nuts are a great source of heart-healthy fats and also provide protein and essential nutrients. They can give you a source of sustained energy for your workout.
Pair them with fresh or dried fruit for a healthy dose of carbohydrates. However, test these options to see how they settle. High-fat foods can slow digestion, and they may make food sit in your stomach too long if your workout is coming up quickly.
Many grocery stores carry single-serving packets of peanut butter that don’t require refrigeration and can be easily stored in a gym bag. For a tasty protein-carbohydrate combo, you can spread peanut butter on:
- an apple
- a banana
- whole-grain crackers
- a slice of whole-grain bread
If you don’t like peanut butter, try almond butter, soy butter, or other protein-rich alternatives.
Don’t cut too many calories
If you’re trying to lose weight or tone your body, you may be tempted to cut a ton of calories from your meals. Cutting calories is a key part of weight loss, but it’s possible to go too far.
Weight loss diets should never leave you feeling exhausted or ill. Those are signs that you’re not getting the calories you need for good health and fitness.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteTrusted Source, a diet containing 1,200 to 1,500 daily calories is suitable for most women who are trying to lose weight safely. A diet with 1,500 to 1,800 daily calories is appropriate for most men who are trying to shed excess pounds.
If you’re very active or you don’t want to lose weight while getting fit, you may need to eat more calories. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian to learn how many calories you need to support your lifestyle and fitness goals.
Balance is key
As you settle into an active lifestyle, you’ll probably discover which foods give you the most energy and which have negative effects. The key is learning to listen to your body and balancing what feels right with what’s good for you.
Follow these tips:
- Aim to make breakfast a part of your routine.
- Choose complex carbohydrates, lean protein sources, healthy fats, and a wide variety of fruits and veggies.
- Stock your fridge and gym bag with healthy workout snacks.
The right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and other nutrients can help fuel your exercise routine.
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