Most people will be aware that embarking on an exercise plan will only get them halfway to a toned physique; working out will get you so far, but it's also important to eat the right things.

One misconception is that cutting down calories, or cutting out calorific food completely, is the best way to lose weight, but this can sometimes have the opposite effect by putting your body into starvation mode and forcing itself to retain any calories eaten, rather than burning them off.

Instead, it's important to strike the right balance between eating and working out, and this means planning the times of day when you eat to maximise the nutritional value without compromising your workout.

The majority of people will be aware that you need to ideally eat within half an hour of working out for maximum benefit, but what about eating before you exercise?

It depends largely on what type of food you are going to eat, as some will release energy into the body slower than others, while consuming a significant amount will obviously have a longer-lasting energy boost, albeit while being released at a slower rate.

If you're planning on going on a major run, then carbs such as wholewheat pasta need to be eaten around three hours before - leaving enough time for them to digest and to be slowly released to fuel your muscles.

If you like to exercise first thing in the morning, then eating a high-carb meal the night before will have a  similar effect.

Try to avoid exercising within an hour of eating a meal, as it may not only make you feel sick, but the carbs and calories you've consumed are unlikely to be used.

If you do need to eat immediately before working out, the best type of food to consume is fruit, as it's high in sugar, which will quickly be released into the body and provide a temporary energy boost - something that works particularly well when lifting weights or doing high intensity exercise.

Similarly, a chocolate bar will have a similar effect (as long as it's not a king-size one), as will any food that can provide the sugar rush needed to spur you into action.