Celebrity fitness trainer Jackie Warner answered a question that many of us wonder regularly when she joined me on Mondays With Marlo -- what are you supposed to eat before and after exercise? Jackie told me that carbs are key before and after your workout because muscles run on sugar. She also stressed the importance of having a balanced protein-to-carb-to-fat ratio in the meal you eat after exercise.

For more advice to get into top shape, see Jackie's expert fitness tips:

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  • Snack On Protein Before Bed

    While you sleep, your body is hard at work breaking down muscle protein into energy. Eating a high-quality protein like cottage cheese before bed aids in retaining muscle mass – and because muscle burns more calories than fat, the protein will help keep extra pounds at bay.

  • Add Some Pounds

    Adding resistance training to your routine will give you a toned – not bulky – look and increase metabolism. Just starting out? Combine 15 minutes of weight lifting with 15 minutes of cardio to drop pounds.

  • Squeeze In A Fast Workout

    If you’re short on time, try a “100s” workout: Do 10 squats, 10 pushups and 10 situps. Repeat this circuit 10 times for a quick, calorie-burning workout.

  • Make Achievable Goals

    Making lofty resolutions like deciding to lose 30 pounds in two months is setting yourself up for failure. Instead, make smaller goals you can tackle individually and incorporate into your lifestyle. Try adding a new fitness class to your exercise routine, taking a lunchtime walk instead of eating at your desk or eliminating soda from your diet.

  • Plank It Out

    The plank is one of the best moves to tone your core. After mastering the basic plank, you can add more advanced moves. Touching your elbow with your knee while in plank is great for the oblique muscles. To get some extra arm toning in, try the up and down plank: start in plank, come up onto your hands while holding the plank position and then return to the plank and repeat.

  • Resist Skipping Meals

    Even if you’re not hungry at traditional times, your body still needs fuel. Skipping meals drops your insulin levels and makes it more likely that you’ll indulge more than usual when you eat next. Try eating five smaller meals a day if three bigger ones don’t suit your style. Aim for a protein like chicken or fish, a healthy carbohydrate like a sweet potato or whole grains and a good fat at each meal – drizzle a bit of olive oil on a salad or include a few avocado slices in your sandwich. (And don’t forget your fruits and veggies!)

  • Get Enough Sleep

    Not catching enough zzz’s can contribute to weight gain, so log in your eight hours each evening. Tossing and turning? <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marlo-thomas/twelve-tips-for-better-sleep_b_2095206.html">Try our tips</a> to get a better night’s rest.

  • Work Muscles Together

    Don’t want to waste any time at the gym? Combine exercises that incorporate both your upper and lower body, and work multiple muscle groups at once. Try a military press as you come up from a squat, or doing a bicep curl while you lunge.

  • Drink More

    Water, that is. It’ll temporarily boost your metabolism, and it’s a much healthier – and cheaper – option than sugary juices and sodas.

  • Try Some Big Movements

    Don't be intimidated by certain exercises. If you’re looking for all-in-one moves, pushups, squats and planks are hard to beat. These powerhouse moves work the core, your legs and raise your heart rate.

  • Target Arm Flab

    While genetics decide where your body will store fat (thanks, Mom and Dad), you can spot tone problem areas. To sculpt toned arms, incorporate moves that will work all three of the muscles in your triceps, your biceps and shoulders. Tricep kickbacks, bench dips, overhead presses and head bangers are all great options.

  • Don’t Be Afraid To Quit Smoking

    A common fear among smokers is that they’ll gain weight when they kick the habit. Here’s the thing: it makes you feel good because it releases high levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain. What other activity releases these chemicals? Exercise! Working out more while smoking less will produce the same feel-good feelings naturally – and keep you trim in a much healthier way.

  • Do What You Love

    If the idea of traditional exercise makes you shudder, there are other options. Have you always wanted to learn how to do a sun salutation? Try a yoga class. Interested in self-defense? Sign up for boxing lessons. Meet friends for a hike instead of lunch, or bike ride around your town instead of driving. You’re more likely to stick to a fitness routine if you’re enjoying it – and remember, you don’t have to be at the gym for it to count.

  • Work Out To Boost Your Immune System

    Feeling under the weather? Your routine doesn’t have to suffer. Working out can actually boost your immune system and help you get rid of that cold. Do some cardio and lighter resistance training to keep active. One caveat: if you have a fever, stay home. Your body and fellow gym-goers will both thank you.

  • Firm Up Your Skin

    After losing weight, you might have saggy skin. While skin won’t naturally snap back, you can boost collagen production to firm it up. Proteins with amino acids are a great option: try chicken, turkey, eggs and tofu at meal time, or sneak greens like spinach, kale and broccoli into smoothies for an added boost.


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