When it comes to your overall health, eating right is just as important as working out. Stay on top of your diet so you can feel your best and get the results you deserve.

If you’re working hard to stay physically fit, you need to prioritize getting your diet right. Think about it: You spend hours lifting weights, sweating it out during cardio sessions, and plenty of time pumping up with DynaPro resistance bands — so why would you eat in a way that could slow down your progress? You’re working way too hard to lose your steam over a bunch of bad food choices! Take a cue from Nutritionist, Danielle Pashko of PashkoWellness.com. In an exclusive interview with DynaPro, she shares her best tips:

DynaPro Direct: Why is nutrition so important when it comes to being fit and healthy?

Danielle Pashko: What you feed yourself is probably the single most important action you take for your health. For any ailment, there is almost always a diet that can improve symptoms or completely reverse them. Additionally, you can work out like you’re in the military, but if you don’t maintain the right diet, your efforts will never get you in the shape you are hoping for.

DD: What are some general tips for individuals who work out to focus on when it comes to food?

DP: Make sure to have a balance of healthy carbohydrates, proteins, and good fats with plenty of vegetables. Eat your food rather than drink it. I’m not a big fan of juices (even the green ones) in excess. Many people think that they can eat unlimited “healthy” foods if they are exercising. You still have to be conscious of your caloric and carbohydrate intake even if it’s coming from a good source.

It’s also wise to focus on meal timing. I recommend eating a small snack pre-workout and then your main meal post-workout. A big mistake I see with clients is eating before the gym, then feeling so hungry post workout that they end up eating another whole meal. So even though they may have had this killer workout, it was negated by all the calories consumed. Just eat enough pre-workout for energy, but not until the point of fullness.

DD: Do you recommend meal prepping and getting into a schedule with food?

DP: Yes, planning your food will save you from making bad choices when your blood sugar gets low and you’re feeling hungry and impatient. Have your fridge or freezer stocked with some lean protein options like organic chicken, tuna, turkey, and eggs. Then you can always easily pair it with some mixed greens or tomato and cucumber salad. This type of meal only takes five minutes — when you have more time, then it’s easier to get more creative with side dishes or salad stuffings!

DD: Do you have any power snack recommendations?

Improve your diet with these healthy tips from Danielle Pashko

DP: I like low-fat Greek yogurt and almonds, hard boiled eggs, turkey slices with cherry tomatoes, string cheese and a piece of fruit, a protein bar or high quality protein powder when I’m on the go. My snack rule is that it has to be under 200 calories, over 9 grams of protein, and under 30 grams of carbohydrates. Anything more than that is not a snack — it’s a meal.

DD: Do you recommend just drinking water when working out, or drinking protein shakes and electrolyte drinks, too?

DP: I like a few electrolyte drinks as long as they are not too high in sugar — but post-workout, a high quality protein shake (just mixed with water) can be a good idea to refuel. Just make sure not to add on milk, fruit, peanut butter etc. since those shakes can really add up in calories, sugar and carbohydrates! This can be especially damaging for women with weight loss goals.

DD: Do you have any foods to recommend that support losing weight?

DP: Yes! Plenty of non-starchy, green leafy vegetables with lean protein and healthy fats from sources like oily fish, avocado and olive oil. A Mediterranean diet is a great way to eat out in a restaurant without worrying too much. I don’t think that you necessarily need to follow a very low carbohydrate diet, but you should eat them earlier in the day so you have time to burn the calories off. Stay away from starch at dinnertime.

DD: Do you have any foods to recommend that support building muscle?

DP: Make sure to eat enough protein! Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids — it’s what helps us get those beautifully defined muscles, prevent brittle hair, skin, and nails, strengthen our bones, and regulate hormone function. Eggs, lean meats, low-fat dairy, poultry, beans, lentils, and soy are all proteins that support building muscle. High quality protein bars and shakes are also good for muscle building pre- and post-workout.

DD: What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about food?

DP: According to Maimonides, an ancient physician and scholar: “Overeating is is like poison to anyone’s body; it is the main source of all illness. You should eat to the point of satiation but not fullness.” People often overeat “healthy foods” and it can be counterproductive. Plus, if you eat mindfully most of the time, then you don’t need to be focused on having a 100% perfect diet — food should bring you joy! I feel it’s more dangerous to eat the most restrictive diet with an unhappy spirit rather than cheat a little with the right mental attitude.

Lead a healthy lifestyle with high quality fitness equipment from DynaPro Direct