How I Balance Healthy Eating with High Intensity Workouts + What I Ate Today

How I Balance Healthy Eating

How I Balance Healthy Eating with High Intensity Workouts + What I Ate Today

Happppy February!

I can’t believe it’s already February. How is everyone doing with their New Year’s resolutions (if you set them?) February 1 is a great day to reevaluate, to see if you set realistic goals, to see how you’ve been staying on track and if not, what steps you can take to stay on track.

If you need some healthy inspiration, you’ve clicked on the right blog post. Today is another one of my #livinginspiralized features, where I’m sharing What I Ate Today (err, yesterday, 1/31) and I’ll be talking about how I eat when I’m working out intensely.

What I Ate Today, January 31, 2017



I just received a shipment of Daily Harvest smoothies, which I’m obsessed with! I love them as snacks, as breakfasts (like today) or even as desserts. They have this Acai + Cherry (the “beautifier”) that’s INSANE. I also love the Avocado + Caco smoothie (tastes like a creamy chocolate milkshake), the Mint+ Cacao smoothie (tastes like Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream!) and the Carrot + Chia (tastes like carrot cake!)

If you want to try it out, you can get three FREE smoothies, just use code “inspiralized”. Order them here!


Since I was out of the office all day, and I had to stop at Whole Foods to pick up some veggies for a Facebook Live I was doing later in the afternoon, so I decided to treat myself to the food bar.

I got a lentil soup (amazing!) and just some random stuff that caught my eye at the salad bar: a boiled egg, a delicious lemon-cranberry quinoa salad, garlic broccoli, and some spinach with carrots and peas.


I’m a big dry cereal person – it’s my go-to snack, especially when I feel like I haven’t had enough carbs. I have a box of Nature’s Path Organics cereal in my pantry, so I had a mug-full of that. Random, but satisfied the craving – and a great source of fiber!


I made a big batch of my Vegetarian Quinoa and Bean Chili, topped with avocado! I love this dish, especially on a day like today when it’s so chilly and snowy out. Nothing better!


I had a banana with almond butter, but I forgot to take pictures!

How I Balance Healthy Eating with High Intensity Workouts

This is the question I’ll be answering today. If you have any questions you’d like to ask for upcoming Living Inspiralized features, send them my way.

I would love to know how to eat when you are working out so intensely. I find that when i up my workouts, I am STARVING. Do you count calories? Im wondering if I should spend more time focusing on clean foods, than calories.

Allyson, asked via the blog

This is a great question and a question that I receive a LOT, so I figured I would finally answer it!

Before I get to my personal advice, let me reiterate a very important point: everyone is different. Everyone’s body chemistry is different, everyone responds to exercise and food groups differently. This is what works for me, and I’m offering my advice based on my personal experiences. Just remember that as you read!

Here’s the thing. With exercise, you need to really decide why you’re exercising. Are you exercising to lose weight? To tone up? To maintain a weight loss? To get big muscles? To just feel healthy?

Based on why you’re exercising, you should eat differently. Body builders eat differently than those trying to lose weight. So, your exercise should complement your health goals.

For example, when I was first trying to lose the 30 pounds, I focused on slashing my daily calories, giving up sugar, and keeping my carbs lower than usual. My exercise was primarily cardio at first (for the first month or so) and then I started building in weight lifting to tone. I wanted to see quick results at first, and I knew that’s how my body would respond.

However, now, I’m focused entirely on toning and muscle definition. I eat more protein, more calories, and I eat more carbs. There’s no way I can do a 45 minute HIIT (high-intensity-interval-training) session without having had the proper fuel – a banana with almond butter on Ezekial toast, for example. When I was trying to lose weight, however, I would have never had that before a workout. Now, after my workout, I make sure to eat within 30 minutes and it’s something that’s higher in protein – like a protein dense meal or a smoothie with protein powder.

My biggest advice: DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL. Set mini-goals (ie month 1, I want to lose 5 pounds, month 2 I want to see definition in my arms). Based on those goals, adjust your diet. There’s no reason to keep the same diet – it should evolve as your fitness goals evolve.

If you’re doing high intensity workouts, don’t limit your calories – you NEED that fuel, especially because your metabolism is going to be revved for hours after, and you’re going to need something to help burn. However, make sure the calories you’re eating aren’t empty calories. The cardinal rule: always eat real, whole foods. Just eat the right ones for your fitness goals!

What I’d also recommend is fueling at night time. Drink a TON of water and fuel up properly. Don’t go to bed on an empty stomach and then expect to wake up and run 10 miles or crush weights. What will happen if you do this, is you’ll notice your strength with be less, your energy will be less, and you’re more likely to give up early on the workout or worse, injure yourself. And, you’re more likely to come home after a workout and binge eat, because your body is craving nutrients or your blood sugar has dropped!

This is my final advice for those trying to lose weight AND tone up: build in three days of cardio and 2 days of weight lifting/strength training. I like having a rest day to fall back on in case I’m exhausted from the week and the other day, I usually build in an extra light workout (or yoga now!) or I just do something fun and active, that’s not necessarily an “exercise day.” On the days that you are doing cardio, you don’t need as much fuel as you do on the strength training days, where you’re trying to build your muscles up. So, eat accordingly!

Most importantly, listen to your body. If you’re feeling light headed during a workout, that’s most likely because you didn’t eat enough or fuel properly, so stop, take a 5 minute break, fuel up (maybe have a half banana or a piece of a granola bar) and then continue your workout. I keep snacks in my gym bag for this purpose! When I’m feeling weak, I have a little break (hello, Snickers commercial) and then I get back to it!

And if you are curious what I eat on my high-intensity cardio days, I did a 45 minute spin class yesterday, and you can see what I ate above! I also ate completely plant-based, which tends to be heavier in carbs than say, a Paleo diet. Just keep that in mind! All of the carbs come from whole grains, which is most important.

I hope this helps some of you! And remember, I’m not a certified nutritionist or personal trainer, so all of this is based on my own personal experiences, so take it as you’d like!


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Leave a Comment


Felicia Bratrsovsky says:
Hi Ali! Love todays post on eating healthy when working out. Do you worry when eating out that some thing isn't vegan/vegetarian when it should be? Or do you just hope for the best?
Ali Maffucci says:
I'm not a vegan or vegetarian, so no! I just eat primarily veg, but I'm an omnivore, so eating something that's not veg wouldn't worry me!
Hillary Gras says:
Hey Ali, I think thats great advice in general! And clearly it's working for you :) The only thing that might not be great for everyone is fueling at night. In general, eating after 8 PM isn't a great idea as it has effect on metabolism, the ability to burn fat (our body is actually proven to burn fat better during the hours of sunlight.. crazy but true!). But all that said, I still do it on occasion because helllooooo schedules!? anyway, this is sooooo not meant to be like calling you out, just voicing something interesting I learned recently! Have to have something though, so I usually eat as soon as I wake up if i'm working out this morning. I keep it light, but you're right, it depends on the person and the work out! Also I was wondering if you've tried your hand at homemade kombucha ? I just started my first ferment and I'm so pumped! I figured you might have dabbled in this? Happy Wednesday and as always, a great post! I love seeing the full day's eats. It's really inspirational !
Ali Maffucci says:
Thanks, Hillary - and yes, totally! Some people shouldn't eat after 8pm, their bodies metabolize differently. That's why it's so tough to offer "advice" when we're so unique! But I love that you're sharing your findings, love hearing it! I haven't tried homemade kombucha, I have stopped drinking it because I don't love it as much during the cold months - weird, right??
Hillary Gras says:
I wish I didn't crave it in winter! Was great for mocktails at Christmas! Always good to mix it up though. Thanks for the reply!
Carly says:
Hi Ali! Another great post, thank you! I was wondering if you ever keep track of how much protein you're eating. I recently tracked my food for a week in MyFitnessPal so I could really see how much protein I was having and I was shocked that it was way lower than I thought! I feel like the only way I can get enough is if I start using protein powder. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you!
Ali Maffucci says:
I eat SO many legumes, beans, and quinoa, that I think that helps me a lot. I also eat almond butter almost every single day, which is a healthy fat/source of protein. Hard boiled eggs, and the sandwich I make with Ezekial bread and hummus offers protein. I try to get protein in at each meal, especially because my protein sources aren't always "complete proteins." Hope that helps!
Trish says:
I have been a long time Inspiralizer, use it weekly and love it-this week mad the butternut squash, kale and sausage lasagna! Today, I am so excited, because of your blog, I placed my first Daily Harvest order and cannot wait to try my smoothies! Thank you for constantly challenging your readers to try new things, push themselves to limits they did not think was possible and being mindful that we are all on our own journey! Trish
Ali Maffucci says:
Yay, you're going to love them!! They're a bit pricey, but totally worth it, especially if you're investing in your health and don't have the time to come up with your own smoothie combos - I LOVE them.
Kat says:
Hey girl, terrific advice re working out and food intake. Thanks for all these posts - I luv them. You deserve all your success and that nice hubby you have and good stuff! Condolences though on your grandfather. Take care, Kat - KatMagic - your biggest and best Cdn. fan!!!!!! Can not wait to see your invite to the shopping channel out of Toronto - which is Canada's shopping network. Rosalie Brown (fitness expert) is a good friend - you probably have see her on the shopping channel - she is often on our shopping channel and I told her they need to get you to Toronto and soon!!!!!
Matty says:
Hi. Just curious if you took/take any supplements in addition?
Amy says:
Glad to know I'm not the only one who loves dry cereal! Thank you for sharing this, I really enjoyed reading it! I've just swapped cardio (wasn't really doing it for me) for weight lifting and I love it. I'm small/thin frame and have been wanting to tone up and build a little muscle for a while, so i decided to pluck up the courage and book a PT session - best decision ever! I've noticed I need to eat after working out and usually grab some celery or carrots and dunk them in almond butter :) Looking forward to your next post.
Ali Maffucci says:
Thanks for the comment, Amy - and so glad to see you've found what works for you!
Sana says:
Do you snack at all in between meals? I have finally figured out proper meals that help with weight loss. Lots of zoodles :) But I do get stuck on snacks. I have tea often times and fruits...
Ali Maffucci says:
I do snack! I love hummus and celery or carrots. I love nuts (but you have to be careful - calories & fat add up quickly, so just have a handful). I also love Noka Organics packets, they taste like applesauce, but are packed with so much more! I also love almond butter & banana or almond butter & celery. Hope that helps!
Allie says:
Love your site and all you do! Have been eating your zucchini noodles with tomatoes and avocado every day for lunch for two weeks and I feel awesome. This is the first time I have ever walked away from an all-veggie meal feeling completely full, yet not overwhelmingly full. I have also been having your green smoothies every day for breakfast which also leave me full till lunch. Thank you for the recipes! I love your "what i ate today" posts! Keep them up!
Jessie says:
Hi Ali, I'm curious where you go for your Peloton bike workouts? Do you own one or are there bikes somewhere that you go and use? I just looked into to cost and wow! I'm outside of Austin and not super close to many good gym/workout facilities and have been curious about the at-home options like Peloton. P.S. I've been following you since the beginnning of Inspiralized and am so inspired by you and very impressed by your personal brand building. Brava!
Katelyn says:
Hi Ali- I love your posts! Thanks for the constant inspiration! Question about your Daily Harvest smoothies- what do you mix in with them? I see that they recommend coconut water, almond milk, etc. - just curious what you find that works well. Thanks!
Thanks for your whole effort on this blog. Kim really loves doing research and it's simple to grasp why. We all learn all concerning the compelling mode you deliver powerful thoughts on your web blog and welcome participation from other people on that issue so my daughter is now starting to learn a whole lot. Have fun with the rest of the year. You're the one doing a wonderful job.

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