What to Eat When Working Out to Lose Weight?

To maximize your workouts, burn the most calories, and lose weight, the right nutrition is paramount. In fact, whether you’re out to lose weight, increase endurance, run faster, or gain muscle – what you eat is the determining factor. Losing weight and peak performance comes with the right balance of carbs, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water.

The rest of this post will aid you in making the right choices for fueling your body when working out to lose weight.

What to Eat When Working Out To Lose Weight?

Even though there’s not a one size fits all answer to the question, there are some commonalities to the best nutrition when working out. Here’s what your food needs to provide for exercise and burning calories:

  • Pre-workout food provides fuel for energy without adding excess calories or overworking your digestive system during a workout.
  • Post-workout nutrition is for re-energizing and repairing damaged muscles and helping with sore muscles.

What to Eat for Pre Workout Nutrition to Lose Weight?

It’s important to use caution when selecting food to eat before a workout. Not only will the right nutrition make for a better exercise session, the wrong food will make working out difficult.

Eating the right foods will actually produce the energy needed to tone and build muscle along with aiding in calorie burn. So, getting specific about what to eat before a workout means selecting only the foods that work best.

1. Carbohydrates

Because carbs are the body’s fuel supply, the more complex carbohydrates you consume pre workout, the better and longer the workout. They are the backbone of your energy levels and will provide long lasting and steady energy for your muscles. That makes it imperative to choose only complex carbs for better exercise and more productive weight loss.

Healthy Carb Rich Foods

  • Whole Oats
  • Buckwheat
  • Bananas
  • Kidney Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Apples
  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Beets
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Oranges
  • Blueberries

Here are some great pre-workout snacks:

  • Oatmeal and fruit
  • Greek yogurt
  • Peanut butter
  • Bananas
  • Apple
  • Trail mix with nuts, seeds, and raisins

Best Time for Pre-Workout Nutrition
When it comes to the best time to consume complex carbs, shoot for 30 minutes to 2 hours pre-workout. Remember, healthy carbs help fuel energy to burn more calories.

2. Protein

Muscles require amino acids for both fuel and repair post workout. Protein is the best source for amino acids to rebuild and repair muscles after exercise. Consuming protein after exercise can help reduce muscle soreness.

High Protein Foods for Weight Loss and Exercise

  • Lean beef
  • Tuna
  • Chicken breast
  • Eggs
  • Whole oats for carbs and protein
  • Cottage cheese
  • Broccoli
  • Lentils
  • All types of fish
  • Turkey breast
  • Peanuts
  • Whey protein supplements

Give Protein Time to Digest

A small amount of protein before a workout is ok. However, a lot of fat and or fiber take too long to digest.

Best Times to Eat When Working Out to Lose Weight

  • Eating a meal 3-4 hours before a workout is perfect.
  • Eating a small snack 30 minutes to an hour before your exercise will produce the energy needed to keep up your metabolism
  • Don’t eat a large meal and then workout. Consuming a lot of food just before exercising means all your energy goes to digesting it.

Post Workout Nutrition is Important

Why what you eat post workout is vital to both weight loss and health:

1. Fluid and Electrolytes

Even if you think you’re not sweating during a workout, you lose a lot of fluid and electrolytes. Losing and not replacing fluid and electrolytes often leads to:

  • Muscle cramping
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches

Foods that help restore electrolyte balance:

  • Vegetable juice, canned vegetables, and canned soup are all good because they have high amounts of sodium.
  • Bananas, oranges, and spinach provide a quick potassium boost.
  • Milk, yogurt, and leafy greens provide calcium.
  • Avocados, cashews, and pumpkin seeds help to replace magnesium.
  • Celery and tomatoes are great for replacing and replenishing much needed Chloride.

You may be tempted to rely on sports drinks to rehydrate after a workout, but a much better alternative is a healthy and balanced diet and staying hydrated with water.

2. Healthy Carbohydrates

Remember that your body’s first energy source is carbs. You’ll need to replace the carbs used for fuel as quickly as possible to avoid fatigue. *Remember to go for healthy complex carbs rather than sugary snacks for energy replacement.

3. Proteins

Amino acids from protein sources post workout are a must to aid in the repair of damaged muscle tissue during any workout or exercise.

High Protein Snacks

If you’re not ready for a full meal within 60 minutes of finishing your exercise routine, try one of these: Low fat milk and blue berries or other fruit, Chocolate milk, Turkey or Chicken whole grain wraps with lettuce and tomato, Yogurt with your favorite fruit.

Knowing Your Weight Loss and Fitness Goal For Success

Deciding on your weight loss goals and a workout plan is the first step to success.

Going on a diet without a plan is a recipe for disaster.

The key is to start with your major goal, and then break it down into smaller and more attainable goals.

Motivation will soar mentally and physically as you see yourself achieving these smaller goals

The first step to realistic goals is taking time to think them through, and then write them. Don’t bother saving them on your computer either.

Start out with an inexpensive spiral notebook and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the goal too big? Any weight loss or fitness goal should be attainable in 2-6 weeks. If your primary goal is going to take longer than that, now’s the time to break it down into smaller goals.
  • Are the goals actionable? Setting any goals that aren’t realistic, actionable, and attainable only sets you up for defeat. Be honest with yourself about your fitness level, and time constraints. Don’t bother setting a goal of working out 5 days a week, when you can only exercise 3 times a week. If you’ve not been working out regularly, remember to start very slow and only increase your time or intensity by 10% a week.
  • Can you really see the goal happening? To see the goal through to the end takes an honest look at yourself and the goal. Decide with all honestly if you can really see yourself achieving the goals you set. Otherwise, don’t be afraid to break them down to smaller goals


Most people into casual exercise or losing weight, do not take proper nutrition seriously and it impedes their progress.

It’s important to take both pre and post workout nutrition seriously whether your workouts are for weight loss or not.

Pre workout nutrition is vital for fueling your workouts and aiding your body in the process of burning calories. Eating the proper pre workout foods will help you feel stronger, have more endurance, and up metabolism for weight loss.

Eating properly post workout is at least as important! Eating protein after your workout will increase muscle protein synthesis and lead to faster and less sore recovery times.

Losing weight with exercise is easier, faster, and helps avoid sagging skin and muscle. And the truth is, the same foods that are beneficial to your body when working out are good to lose weight. Eat healthy, stay healthy, lose weight, and maintain a healthy weight.

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