We established in Sports Nutrition Part 1 that healthy living is a 2-sided coin. Part 1 discussed exercise tips so Part 2 will focus on eating in regards to exercise. Fueling your body is essential for a successful workout. When you start exercising, your body pulls energy from the carbs stored in your muscles and liver (glycogen) before it starts breaking down fat stores. If you want to burn more fat, you have to do endurance exercise like jogging. Depending on the intensity of your workout, you can exercise for shorter or longer to burn more calories.
What to eat prior to exercising:
You don’t want to eat immediately before you work out as this can cause cramping or nausea but you definitely want to have a nourished body. For some morning gym-goers, a drink of water is adequate prior to working out since your body is using stored energy from last night’s dinner anyways. If you feel very hungry, than definitely eat a small carb-rich snack at least 30 minutes before. If you exercise later in day, try to eat a large meal 3-4 hours before exercising or a smaller snack 1-2 hours beforehand.
The larger meal should include:
- A carbohydrate-rich snack to load up glycogen stores
- Small amounts of protein to help build and repair muscle
- A meal that is low in fat and fiber- avoid fried foods
- Drink ~2 cups of water during the 1-2 hours before you start your workout
- Familiar foods that your body can tolerate- now is not the time to try that spicy Mexican dish you’ve been craving
- Some examples include:
- Low fat tuna melt + fruit cup + fat free yogurt
- Oatmeal with honey and almonds + skim milk + banana
- Low fat cottage cheese + crackers +peanut butter + grapes
- Fruit and yogurt smoothie + low fat granola
The smaller snack should be high in carbs. Some examples include:
- A fruit
- Bread with jam
- Sports Bar
- Water or Sports Drink (sports drinks should contain 15 grams of carbs per 8 ounces and 110mg of sodium)
What to eat post exercise:
Goals for recovery include:
- Replenishing lost fluid and electrolytes (sodium and potassium): weigh yourself before and after exercise and drink 2 cups of fluid for each pound lost
- Replace carbohydrates used from muscle stores (glycogen stores)
- Consume protein to help repair damaged muscle tissue and to help build new muscle
One should eat a snack or a meal within 15-60 minutes of working out. Sports drinks are good for replacing lost electrolytes.
- Sports drinks + sports bar
- Yogurt and berry smoothie
- Crackers with peanut butter + low fat chocolate milk
Smart recovery meal ideas are:
- Turkey and tomato/lettuce on whole wheat bread + pretzels
- Homemade Burrito- Whole wheat wrap filled with rice, beans, salsa, cheese, and avocado
- Chicken stir fry with veggies served over brown rice
Keep these tips in mind the next time you work out and hopefully you’ll be able to last longer and recover faster!