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I want to have more energy, build muscle, and increase my stamina. A nutritionist said to eat more snacks.

Woman easting toast
Toast is a great pre-workout snack.Getty
  • A 40-year-old woman submitted an average day of eating to be reviewed for Insider's Nutrition Clinic.

  • A nutritionist said to make sure she's eating enough and add snacks to her day.

  • If you'd like to have your diet reviewed by an expert, fill out this form.

Gina, 40, submitted her eating routine to Insider's Nutrition Clinic, where qualified dietitians and registered nutritionists offer advice on readers' eating habits.

She told Business Insider she wants to have more energy, build muscle, and increase her cardio stamina.

Gina has a desk job but bikes to work three times a week, which is a 25-minute round trip. Three or four days a week, she goes for a 20 to 30-minute walk at lunchtime. Every week, she also runs two to four miles, does one lower body strength workout, and goes rock climbing for 60 to 90 minutes once or twice.

Registered nutritionist Charan Bijlani told BI that Gina is doing a great job keeping active around her desk job. However, adding more variety to her diet would help support her health, and she may benefit from eating more overall, Bijlani said.

Starting the day with protein helps build strength

For breakfast, Gina typically makes a smoothie consisting of oatmeal, greens, blueberries, peanut butter, and protein powder.

Bijlani said it's great that Gina starts the day with protein as this will help her build strength because it helps muscles recover from workouts, while the oats and produce provide fiber.

"A small tweak when it comes to your fruits and vegetables is to think what other options you could add," Bijlani said. "For example, could you add a different berry instead of blueberries to your morning smoothie sometimes?"

Consuming a variety of plants makes it easier to get all the right nutrients, and also supports gut health, she added.

Tweak one part of a meal each week to increase variety

Gina's go-to lunch is chicken, broccoli, and brown rice, she said.

This is a balanced meal providing protein, carbs, fiber, and some fats depending on how the ingredients are cooked or any sauce added.

Once again, Bijlani advised against getting stuck in a meal routine.

"I know it's easy to stick to the same meals to reduce decision fatigue and make the weekly shop easier, so maybe just try changing one element a week," she said. "For example, maybe this week stick with the rice and chicken and try a new veggie. Then, next week try swapping the rice for quinoa, and the week after swap the chicken for fish or tofu. This helps get some variety but also makes it much easier."

Eating more equals more energy

Gina said her dinners vary but she often eats something like shrimp with peppers, courgette, and pasta.

Bijlani advised Gina to check she's getting enough protein in each meal, as well as ensuring she's eating enough generally.

"As one of your goals is to have more energy and increase your cardio stamina, we may need to see if the amount of food you're having is enough to meet all your physical demands,"

Add snacks to boost energy and strength

Bijlani said Gina may benefit from eating more snacks in a day.

Before exercising, she should eat a snack higher in carbohydrates for energy, such as a banana, some dried fruit, rice cakes, crackers, a slice of toast, or an apple with some peanut butter, Bijlani said.

"This will be helpful to have before your runs (just make sure you give yourself enough time to digest, but this can look different for everyone), before going rock climbing, and even your strength training," she said.

If Gina doesn't eat a meal until a while after exercising, post-workout snacks should contain both protein and carbs.

"Protein is important in replenishing your muscles and for recovery," she said.

Bijlani recommended Greek yogurt with fruit, a few hard-boiled eggs, a protein shake, nuts, Babybels or small portions of cheese, rice cakes with peanut butter, or vegetables with hummus or cottage cheese.

Read the original article on Business Insider