Following a low- to moderate-intensity exercise program 3-5 days per week is important to having a healthy life and the “average” American woman1 (5 feet 4 inches, 170 pounds) and man1 (5 feet 9 inches, 195 pounds) will typically burn between 250 and 500 calories per hour2. More calories from fat are burned at these intensities, which may help a person shed excess weight, change body composition, and improve overall health.

So how does that affect the nutritional needs of the average person who is exercising for 30-60 minutes several days per week? Research3,4,5 indicates that it is most important to eat regular, balanced meals and snacks every 3-4 hours throughout the day. They should contain a mixture of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. The carbohydrates will help to replace muscle glycogen, which is the primary fuel during exercise, while the protein helps build and repair muscles. Some easy options include:

  • Half cup of plain Greek yogurt with a cup of berries, a teaspoon of honey, and a few tablespoons of almonds
  • Two or three large Romaine lettuce leaves each with a slice of deli turkey breast, and 1-2 tablespoons each of broccoli slaw, cooked quinoa, and hummus or guacamole
  • 3-6 ounces of lean meat, poultry, or fish with a small baked sweet potato and steamed green beans
  • Garden salad with a sliced hard-boiled egg, a half-cup of canned beans (drained and rinsed), a quarter-cup of shredded cheese, and a light dressing.
  • Half-cup of cooked oatmeal with half of a medium banana, a teaspoon of maple syrup, and 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts.



Michelle Baglio, RD, LDArticle Written by:
Michelle Baglio, RD, LD
Health & Fitness Professional