Eating small meals during the day helps the body stay fuelled while exercising.

Many of us live to eat. As we grow older, our food stories change, and we eat only to live. Whichever way you look at it, we need food to keep body and soul together. Too little chow and our body goes into starvation mode, which means it starts using less calories than it would normally. So when you start eating normally, you gain more weight. The secret is to eat five to six nutritious little meals a day.

Exercise, of course, is a very important part of any schedule. While the body needs a certain number of calories to stay alive, it also need a certain amount of exercise to keep it moving. Before working out, you must have some food inside you, depending on the time you exercise. Listed below are a few options for you to get an idea.

During your workout

Carry a bottle of plain water or electoral – one spoon of it for one litre of water - with you at all times and take small sips between your workout. Or just add some fresh lemon juice to your water with a pinch of salt and sugar.

Always eat your meals after you've exercised. If it is a morning workout, you need to have breakfast. Include foods like egg white or dal, or a handful of almonds in your meal.

If you are an afternoon exerciser, lunch must have boiled chicken or egg white or paneer or mushroom. Curds are a very convenient option too.

Evenings mean dinner follows. Try adding soya chunks to the veggies you eat with your chappati. If it is rice you prefer, add tofu or make an interesting fried rice combo with veggies and paneer. Idlis are light. Eat three or so with sambar.

Early morning

Not many people feel like eating as soon as they wake up. Still, if you plan on exercising, it is a good idea to eat - or drink - a small snack before you hit the machines and avoid low sugar levels that could make you feel lightheaded. Have something high in carbohydrates like a slice of whole wheat bread or a fruit with some cereal. Try an apple or banana, or a few crackers. A glass of milk with a few almonds would be a good choice too. Milk not your thing? Try a granola bar.

Brunch

You might think that since you've had breakfast, a snack is not necessary. It is. Have something light; a glass of buttermilk, some fruit salad or tender coconut water.

Lunch

A small something – mainly liquid works well. Tender coconut water, a small fruit juice, whole fruit or buttermilk.

Evening

You are done for the day and are ready to get some much needed exercise. But first, give your body some fuel. Like a vegetable sandwich, or a glass of milk with a whole wheat rusk, or roasted beaten rice with jaggery or even some mixed fruit salad.

Why you need each one:

Carbohydrates provide our bodies with energy. They are at the bottom of the food triangle, which means your body must get its maximum calories from carbs. They must be eaten with all meals, whether they are before or after an exercise session. Sources include breads (whole wheat and multigrain are preferred), rice (red rice is nice), pastas, cereals, fruits and fruit juices.

Protein builds the body. We need it at all stages of our lives as its job is to build and repair muscles, red blood cells, hair and nails and other body tissue. Natural sources are best. Always. Some of mother nature's protein provisions include: milk and milk products, tofu, soya, meat, poultry products (eggs, chicken), fish, nuts and beans.

Fats are needed too. Only the sources need to be healthy. The percentage of fat content in our bodies must remain between 20% to 25%. They are need to absorb and transport the fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K. When someone is on a fat free diet, you will notice their dry hair and brittle nails. Our bodies also need fat to cushion them from the shock of falling, maintaining body temperature (skinny people feel colder). Fats are stored as energy in the body. Healthy sources include nuts, seeds, olive oil and fish.

Vitamins and minerals make the body work properly. They build immunity, boost growth and help the different systems perform at their optimal level. Example: carrots are good for the eyes while green leafy vegetables contain vitamin K that helps blood clot easily.

With inputs from the nutritionists at Score Clubs.