Exercise is not only a good way to lose weight, it's essential for staying healthy.

But if you're training regularly, you will need to eat more to compensate for the calories you are burning.

The foods you eat more of are very important though - as the wrong ones could hamper your weight loss efforts, reports the Daily Mail.

Experts from Weight Watchers magazine have put together a list of five foods that are the best fuel to eat before and after an intense workout.

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Quinoa

This gluten-free grain is a source of magnesium, essential for energy production.

Unlike other grains, quinoa is a "complete protein", meaning it provides all the amino acid building blocks the body needs to make new proteins. This makes quinoa a great alternative to animal protein for vegetarians.

Try it in stuffed courgettes for a filling post-workout meal.

Sweet potato

For an easy post-workout meal, stuff a baked sweet potato with chickpeas and spinach, then top with a drizzle with tahini. Photo / 123rf
For an easy post-workout meal, stuff a baked sweet potato with chickpeas and spinach, then top with a drizzle with tahini. Photo / 123rf

If you're doing a high-intensity workout, such as a spin class, follow it up with a meal containing carbohydrate and protein, to refuel and help your muscles recover.

Sweet potato is a savvy choice, because it provides energising carbs, plus vitamin C and beta carotene, needed for maintaining healthy connective tissue.

Turkey

Not just for Christmas, turkey makes a great midweek meal all year.

This lean white meat is a top choice for anyone who's upping their activity, as it also contains B vitamins and selenium (which helps protect against tissue damage) and phosphorus (which helps harness food energy).

Turkey works well with a host of flavours - we love using it in meatballs and adding chopped kale for fibre. Serve with wholewheat pasta and a tomato sauce.

Black beans

Toss black beans with chunks of butternut squash, brown rice and a handful of spinach leaves for a healthy salad. Photo / 123rf
Toss black beans with chunks of butternut squash, brown rice and a handful of spinach leaves for a healthy salad. Photo / 123rf

Keep hunger at bay before your workout by including a fibre-rich food in your meal.

Black beans are a great source of fibre, and ideal for lunch.

Oats

Eating a decent breakfast is always important, but even more so when you're exercising.

Oats have a naturally low GI, so a bowl of them provides you with a slow and steady release of energy throughout the morning.

Oats also contain a soluble fibre called beta glucan that binds to cholesterol-containing bile in the gut, preventing it from being re-absorbed. Because of this, the body produces more bile from blood cholesterol, thereby lowering it.

If you're pressed for time in the morning, make overnight oats. Layer oats with 0 per cent fat natural Greek yogurt or skimmed milk, leave until morning, stir in berry compote and they're good to go.