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What to eat when doing a workout?

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

What do I need to eat when I exercise?

Exercise whether you have a physically active job, attend the gym or play sports is an important way we burn calories and expend our daily energy. Fuelling yourself before and after workouts is really important in not only doing the best you can in your exercise sessions but to help with your body composition, how you look and feel.

Eat protein with each meal

Strength and conditioning

Your body needs more protein when you exercise as your body goes from breaking muscles down to building muscles up. Have you ever seen someone in the gym with a protein shake? Eating protein is an important part of your diet but we should eat protein throughout the day not just when we are working out. Protein is important to build muscle mass, stimulate your metabolism as well as helping you reduce your body fat; it is important when working on changing your body shape.

Carbohydrates and exercise

Think of carbohydrates as your energy source, your fuel in the tank! When you exercise you get your energy from food, either stored energy from meals days prior or more immediate release energy from the meal or snack you last had before you worked out. Carbohydrates have an important role in fuelling workouts and can be included in your pre exercise nutrition, but they are just as vital at refuelling after a workout. Eating carbohydrates after strenuous activities like a Personal Training or gym session can help to build up the glycogen, energy stores. Not only do carbohydrates help with energy they also help with muscle building. Eating a carbohydrate dense meal after exercising can help to stimulate muscle building post workout.

Eating healthy fats and exercise

Healthy fats should be included into your diet daily. They play a vital role in keeping you at optimum health with roles such as transporting vitamins. When included in your diet they can improve not only how you train but also how you look. It is recommended to gain a healthy balance of fats into your diet and included an equal portion of saturated, monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

What should I eat when I exercise?

Your food intake may vary depending on the type of exercise and the time of day you train and your overall goals. Concentrate on your everyday food plate too, not just what you are eating on a training day. Example meals can be:


  1. Muesli (no added sugar) or wholegrain cereal with low fat milk and fresh fruit

  2. 2 slices of wholemeal toast with scrambled eggs and a grilled tomato


  1. Chicken and salad sandwich (wholemeal bread or wrap)

  2. Lentil and vegetable soup with whole wheat roll


  1. Chilli con carne – lean mince, kidney beans, chopped tomatoes and brown rice

  2. Stir fry – whole wheat noodles, lean meat (chicken, turkey or beef), tofu or prawns and vegetables


  1. Fruit

  2. Oatcakes with peanut butter

Author: Jade Mottley


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