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The best foods to eat while working out to lose weight and build muscle

A simple, yet very accurate description of how the body works when it comes to weight loss is, if more calories are going out than coming in, it is physically impossible for your body to gain unwanted body fat. Now, I am not suggesting you starve yourself and exist in calorie debt, because the body has a way of dealing with that as well and it will adjust your metabolic thermostat so anything that you do consume will be taken in stored for emergency energy, which in other words, body fat.  Therein lies the challenge. 


Eating smart and providing your body the materials that it requires to not only work hard during your workouts, but to also enable it to rebuild once you are done working out, is the key to the proper diet that will keep you fit, lean, looking and feeling great.

Diet Plan for Working Out

Although watching your diet is important all the time, it's particularly vital when you're working out regularly. Your body requires nutrients for muscle recovery, and failing to adequately refuel before and after a workout could sabotage your efforts.


According to the Mayo Clinic, it's best to eat a large meal three to four hours before a workout or a small meal one to three hours before working out. After your workout, consume a blend of protein and carbohydrates within two hours.  That could be as simple as making a protein smoothie.  Use your favorite fruits and berries to the smoothie and you have a delicious treat that will assist your body in recovering and rebuilding after each work out.



The best diet plan while working out is one that's balanced and consistent. The body needs complex carbohydrates to fuel muscles for your workout and to replenish that fuel afterward, as well as protein to repair damaged muscle. You also need healthy fats to burn fat.

Top Foods for Your Diet

The best diet plan while working out can include foods such as:

  • Avocados:Avocados are an excellent source of fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. A study published in 2013 in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found eight preliminary studies that suggest avocado consumption helps support cardiovascular health. Additionally, according to a small study published in November 2013 in the Nutrition Journal, eating half an avocado can improve satiety for up to three to five hours.

  • Full-fat Greek yogurt:Full-fat Greek yogurt is full of whole carbohydrates, protein and filling healthy fat to help you recover from workouts. Greek yogurt has higher protein content than regular yogurt because it is strained to remove more of the liquid whey protein.
  • Lean meat:Lean cuts of chicken, fish, and beef are high-protein foods that aid in muscle building. Protein is essential to building muscle because, as shown in a May 2015 study in Biophysical Journal, proteins are enzymes cause reactions in the body essential to your metabolism, such as digestion, energy production, and muscle contraction. Protein helps build new muscle and decrease soreness as the muscles repair themselves.


Beef scores extra points for its iron content. A December 2014 study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise determined that low iron levels can lead to anemia, which limits oxygen delivery to exercising muscle. Tissue iron deficiency may affect exercise performance by hampering muscle oxidative metabolism.


How you prepare your meats or fish also matters.  Try to bake or broil rather than pan fry in oil.  It’s better for your arteries and your waistline.


  • Whole grains:Whole grains provide your body with the carbohydrates it needs for energy production without all the weight gain associated with processed grains such as white bread, cereal and pasta. Eating oats, quinoa and whole-wheat breads, pastas and cereals will give you carbs and fiber to help with digestion and curb your appetite.


Daily Calories for Exercise

Everyone is different when it comes to this area.  There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for how many calories you should eat per day when you're working out regularly. The number of calories to eat to lose weight while working out varies depending on your body type, your eating habits, the type of workout you're doing, how much you exercise as well as other factors.


When not trying to lose weight, Health.gov's Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adult men eat between 2,400 and 2,800 calories per day, while adult women should eat between 1,800 and 2,200 calories daily, depending on age and activity level.


To lose weight, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends reducing daily calorie intake by 500 to 750 calories per day to lose 1 to 1 1/2 pounds per week. According to Harvard Health Publishing, men should not consume fewer than 1,500 calories per day, unless they're under the care of a medical professional, while women should not consume fewer than 1,200 calories per day.


Body fat composition analyzers have come a long way since they were first introduced and they've also come down considerably in price.  You can find one that will not only give you your actual body fat and muscle mass, but also your metabolic daily requirements.  Knowing such information not only will greatly assist you in regulating your caloric intake, but also offer encouragement as you watch your body fat decrease as your muscle mass increases.



As I stated when I first began this article, it boils down to what going out must exceed what is going into your body.  If you are incorporating cardio such as using treadmill, spin bike, elliptical, rowing machine, or a Stairmaster, then you WILL burn a lot of calories so more will be going out, and you will lose weight. 

Also, if you are resistance training on a regular basis, say using a home gym or weights, then you will build more muscle.  Increased muscle mass results in an increased metabolic rate, better regulation of blood sugar, and it not only looks great but also helps you carry your body weight more efficiently-thereby extending the life of the joints in your body.