Best Practices for Your Diet When Beginning an Exercise Program

It should be no surprise that a healthy diet is an essential part of any exercise program. Whether you are just beginning a new program, or have been working out for a while, eating enough food and eating the right food can go a long way in maximizing your workout efforts.

So, we asked our friends at the Miami University Recreation Center for the best practices, in terms of your diet, when beginning an exercise program. Shannon Posey (Assistant Director of Fitness, Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor) and Jeff Molter (Assistant Director of Fitness and Certified Personal Trainer) offered their valuable insight.

1. Always Drink Water!

Maintaining adequate hydration levels is crucial prior to, during and post workout.

  • Individuals should drink 2-4 Liters of water throughout the day, depending on their size.
  • Emphasis should be placed on drinking water during and immediately following exercise.

2. Get Your Protein

Supplying the body with adequate levels of protein will be crucial for assisting in muscle repair (MyPlate recommends 5.5 ounces).

  • Include a healthy source of protein with each meal consumed.
  • Examples include: lean meat (turkey, chicken), fish (salmon, white water fish), legumes, eggs, peanut butter, nuts/seeds, and tofu.

3. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Incorporate the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet (MyPlate recommends 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables).

4. Macronutrient Ratios

Understand and balance macronutrient ratios (Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates) for desired goals.

  • Make ‘healthy’ choices from each macro when building meals.
  • Do not avoid fat, but instead choose from healthy options.
  • Examples of healthy fats include: fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (salmon, halibut, albacore tuna, and whitefish), canola and vegetable oils, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, and eggs).

5. Real Over Processed

Eat real food, and avoid processed foods.

  • Processed foods hide unwanted additives like unhealthy oils through hydrogenation, plus excess amounts of sodium and sugar.

6. Plan Ahead

Plan out your meals ahead of time. Most people choose to eat out, or eat unhealthy from a lack of planning. Take some time on the weekends to plan where you will eat and what you will eat for the week ahead.

  • Minimize ‘added sugars’ as much as you can.
  • Instead of putting sugar in your coffee or tea, try some honey or pure maple syrup.
  • Fruit provides plenty of natural sugars to satisfy a sweet tooth.

7. Nutrition Labels

Read nutrition labels for information regarding ingredients and total fat from calories. This will help better guide your choices.

  • Foods marketed as being healthy are NOT always healthy.

8. Moderation is Key

Eat everything in moderation and don’t necessarily go cold turkey.

  • Removing sugar and caffeine from the diet abruptly can result in detoxification side effects. If you consume these on a regular basis, work on replacing those things with different foods. Instead of eating a donut for a snack, try a piece of fruit instead.

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