Making the “right” food choices amidst late-night deadlines, networking dinners, and unexpected break room desserts can be a struggle. Especially if you have a penchant for chocolate, cheese, breads, and wine. Over the years I’ve turned to various experts for nutrition advice on fueling up to attack my fitness teaching schedule with a constant stream of energy. I’ve combined this knowledge with experience to offer simple eating habits that apply to strong workouts, long work days, and a balanced healthy lifestyle. Enjoy!

Feed Your Workout

Now that you’ve gotten in the recommended minimum of 30 minutes of exercise three times per week, how do you feed your workout beast? Pre-workout fuel should consist of simple, easy-to-access carbohydrates consumed an hour or two before your workout. Good pre-workout foods include apples, bananas, rice cakes, or pretzels. What’s really important is post-workout food to aid in recovery and muscle repair, ( which should be eaten within an hour after your workout. Good foods are proteins from whole food sources such as milk, yogurt, fish, chicken, tofu, or beans. Pair with a good carb like brown rice, whole grain pasta or bread, and you have a well-rounded post-workout meal!

Dine and Dash

If you’re running around all day (i.e. gym, work, lunch meeting, networking drinks, dinner plans) carry some portable, nutrient-dense foods to sustain your energy. The sodium-laden junk food in vending machines or that greasy bar fare doesn’t do the body good for workouts or anything else. My go-to foods are produce like apples and bananas, yogurt cups, raw nut mixes or crackers, and snack-packs of peanut butter, hummus, and guacamole. Throw in some granola or protein bars for quick post-workout fuel before your next full meal. Wondering what to order when you’re out? Stay away from fried food and instead order lean meat skewers or grilled vegetable and cheese platters to share with a friend.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is extremely important, especially in the hot summer months when outdoor recreational activities and rooftop parties are in full swing. Dehydration can result in symptoms such as dizziness, extreme fatigue, and headaches, all of which will slow you down and throw you off your game. Worse yet, you can confuse dehydration with hunger– leading you to consume excessive calories when all you really need is a tall drink of water. I recommend that those who exercise on a regular basis drink at least 32 ounces (or four glasses) of water during their workouts, and sip an additional 64 ounces (8 glasses) throughout the day. Unfortunately, alcohol and coffee don’t count. For a little pizzazz, add a slice of lemon or (my personal favorite) dilute one part coconut water with one part regular water. I’ll drink to that!

While it’s important to fuel up with high-quality food in order to tackle a hectic schedule, remember that balance is key. You can live an active, healthy lifestyle and still indulge now and then. Want to forget these tips and dig into that pizza? No problem. Guzzle a bottle of water afterwards and I’ll see you bright and early at the gym tomorrow.

Gitanjali Borkar Avatar

Gitanjali Borkar, founder of the G MOVES boot camp, is a group fitness leader who motivates others to feel strong, fit, and energized. Follow her on Twitter @ItsGitanjali.