The Smart Way to Fuel Your Workout

Published: May 31st, 2013 |
Author: Angela Munasque

Boost your fitness with the right food balance.


Ah, January, the time of year when people set lofty fitness goals for themselves—and often, nutrition goals as well. If you’re starting a new exercise plan or taking your current one to the next level, there are two things to keep in mind food-wise:

Don’t starve yourself. When I reboot my fitness regimen, I also try to clean up my diet by sticking to low-cal, healthy foods in small portions. In the past, I’ve inadvertently taken this too far and ended up not eating enough, which usually leads to a bad workout. It’s not safe, I have less energy, and I’m distracted by the thought of my next meal.

My revised strategy: I cut down on “extras,” such as chocolate and cheese, and work on getting enough veggies and whole grains so I can tidy my food act without bottoming out on calories.

Don’t overcompensate. I’ve also made the mistake of thinking, “I’m working out more often, so I need to eat more—and I need protein!” Truth is, unless you don’t eat enough to begin with or are taking on an intense athletic challenge, you probably don’t need to seriously ramp up how often or how much you eat. As for protein, most Americans already get twice as much as they need!

My revised strategy: I focus on fueling my body with whole, nutritious foods first rather than using my workouts as an excuse to eat giant servings or extra dessert. For protein, I choose lean chicken, turkey, seafood, beef, or beans.

Need a little more help finding your food balance to get the most out of your fitness plan? Learn more at ChooseMyPlate.gov, or check out SuperTracker, an online tool for tracking your food and physical activity.

—Angela

Related Links:
How to Stick to Your Workouts
6 Moves to Slim Down
Your Perfect Day of Eating

Keywords: fitness, nutrition, weight loss