You may know that a healthy diet should consist of three things: protein, fat and carbs (your macronutrients). Contrary to popular belief, fat and carbs should not be avoided at all times. In fact, when consumed in the right ways and amounts, they're absolutely vital to maintaining and losing weight. Before you go and load up on loaves of bread and French fries, know that there's a right and a wrong way to balancing your macros. Below we break down what your diet should look like for a couple different types of exercise.
Macro breakdown: 20-35% fat, 50-55% carbs, 15-20% protein Total calories per day: 2,500 Time spent training per day: 1-1½ hours
It's super important to fuel up on carbs before your cardio workout. Carbs give your body the energy it needs to get through the hard work ahead, and the protein you consume afterwards helps repair and strengthen the muscles you just used. Make sure you're eating something like a smoothie 60-90 minutes before your cardio sesh — make sure you give it enough time to digest! After your workout, you're on the clock. Your body gives you a 20-30 minute window where your nutrients will be absorbed most efficiently. During that time period, make sure you fuel up on carbs and protein, which will help with muscle recovery and soreness.
>> Work: Ladder 10 Cardio Workout
Macro breakdown: 20% protein, 45-50% carbs, 25-30% fat Total calories per day: 2,100 Time spent training per day: 1 hour
Make sure you're eating a balanced meal (with carbs!) an hour or two before your strength session. The carbs help fuel your body, but also help prevent muscle breakdown. Without the carbs, your body would get its energy from protein stores, and it can't tell a difference between protein you just consumed and protein already in your muscles. So don't forget those complex carbs! During your workout, drink plenty of water. And after, make sure you're getting protein within an hour to repair all those muscles you just worked.
Macro breakdown: 20% protein, 25% fat, 55% carbs Total calories per day: 1,400 Pounds lost per week: 1-1½
Before your workout, eat a healthy mix of carbs and protein, and the same goes for after your workout. The sooner you can re-fuel after your last rep, the better. Aim for more protein than carbs after your workout and you'll start to see results.
Want even more info? Check out the infographic below from Women's Health detailing exactly what to eat for each type of exercise!
>> Read more: How To Fuel For Marathons and 10Ks