Exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It not only helps us to look good, but it also helps us to feel good, including managing chronic pain, maintaining better balance, and improving sleep. When exercising, it’s also important to consume the right drinks and eat the right foods before and after to ensure we are getting the proper benefits from the workout.
However, we may not always know exactly what to eat or drink to maintain a good exercise/diet balance. Or, we may question why we’re not losing weight like we’re supposed to, even if it seems like we’re doing the correct routine.
Thankfully, there’s a food combination that helps solve that mystery. We asked members of our medical expert board, Laura Burak MS, RD, Founder of GetNaked® Nutrition and Author of Slimdown with Smoothies, and Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim & The Portion Teller Plan, what they believe to be the best foods to help someone burn more fat during their exercise. Both agreed that the best foods to eat for exercise to burn more fat include a combination of carbohydrates and protein.
“Although there are no specific foods that ‘burn more fat,’ foods considered mostly protein like eggs, poultry, and fish have a higher thermic effect once consumed, which basically means it takes your body more energy to digest these proteins than it does simple carbohydrates like fruit,” says Burak.
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This means that your metabolism may get a slight boost with more calories burned when you include protein with each meal, especially after a tough workout that involves weight resistance exercises.
However, although protein is a key component to burning more fat for exercise, it’s important to combine it with a carbohydrate.
“Include a carbohydrate-rich food to give you energy, along with some protein to help sustain you and keep your blood sugar steady,” says Young.
“I would recommend including a good source of protein to repair and build muscle tissue,” says Burak. “Ideally, meals and snacks that pair quality carbs (think fruit or grainy bread and crackers) with protein (think eggs, yogurt, turkey, nuts) will keep your blood sugar more stable, increase your meal satisfaction and provide a more well-rounded amount of nutrients for recovery.”
Need some ideas on what a good combination of protein and carbohydrates looks like? Here are some matches made in heaven that will give you inspiration for your next meal or snack. After, if you want to learn more about healthy workout habits, take a look at Popular Foods Proven To Destroy Your Workout, According to Experts.
Fruit and nut butter
Take fresh fruit such as pears, bananas, or apples and top it with a tablespoon of nut butter of your choosing (or use the nut butter as a dip). Peanut butter contains one of the highest amounts of protein, but you can also enjoy your fruit with almond butter, cashew butter, or any other nut butter with protein that you prefer.
Yogurt and berries
Yogurt is a rich source of protein. If you want to pick one with high protein and low sugar, Greek yogurt is a great option. Then you can top or mix in fresh berries of your choosing, such as blueberries or strawberries as the carbohydrates that contain natural sugars.
For inspiration, check out our recipe for A Dessert-Worthy Fruit and Granola Yogurt Parfait.
The fun part about making smoothies is that there are many combinations that you can create, meaning you’ll never get bored. Young suggests combining kiwifruit and blueberries with either low-fat milk or plant-based milk and ice. In order to get the balance of protein, add some peanut butter powder and then blend it all together.
For another option, get our recipe for An Easy, Raspberry-Peach Swirled Smoothie.
Whole-grain crackers with hummus
Whole-grain foods can lead you to a lower average increase in waist size due to their high amounts of soluble fiber—a fiber that dissolves in water and other bodily fluids. This is because the soluble fiber could have a beneficial effect on post-meal blood sugar spikes. Antioxidants and minerals, such as magnesium and potassium, also remain in these foods when the grain is left whole. Therefore, whole-grain crackers are the perfect carb to snack on. Combine it with hummus, a great aid for weight loss, and you’ve got yourself the perfect combination.
Check out our recipe for Nutrient-Packed Avocado Hummus.
Watermelon and cottage cheese
Cottage cheese may not be a fan favorite usually, but it’s packed with protein, making for a great, filling snack on its own. The watermelon helps to balance the cottage cheese by adding a sweet taste with a smooth consistency. It’s light, refreshing, and will make sure you’re ready to go for your workout!