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FOOD & NUTRITION BLOG
I get many, many questions about the best foods to eat pre- and post-workout. There is really no straight answer to this question. As with many topics in nutrition, so much of the advice we give has to be based on the individual with his/her particular circumstance. No one person is the same, so naturally, it makes sense that no one fitness plan is exactly the same. However, there are some basic guidelines that any athlete or regular exerciser can follow to maintain optimum nutrition before and after you sweat it out.
Should you eat before a workout? If so, when? And what types of foods should I eat?
These are all great questions that have some pretty standard answers. Generally, if you’re a competitive athlete or even a regular exerciser, it is recommended that you eat something 1-3 hours before your workout, especially if you plan to exercise strenuously. Without proper fuel, your body will soon give out on you after it has burned your stored fuel. Carbohydrates are a great way to get that instant fuel that you need to keep exercising without losing steam. It is generally not recommended to eat right before you exercise. Food in your gut starts to get digested and this competes with your muscles you’re using to exercise. Also, for many people, exercising right after a meal can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and may cause you to feel ill midway through exercising. Be smart and plan to eat something light and nutritious before you hit the gym.
Some possible ideas for pre-workout fuel include:
The important thing about pre-workout fuel is to choose foods that have both carbohydrates AND protein. Carbohydrates are your fuel, while protein is used to repair and rebuild muscle.
So, you’ve finished sweating it out! Good for you. Now, you are likely famished and are thinking about what to eat. It’s important to replenish the glycogen you just used up in your workout so it’s time to stock up on good ole’ carbs and protein. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics former spokesperson Christine Gerbstadt, MD, MPH, RD, CSSD, recommends a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates and protein about 15-20 minutes after exercise and eating a mixed meal 3-4 hours later.
Some ideas for post-workout meals include:
Some other information I found intriguing:
Sports gels, drinks, energy bites… are they even effective?
I was on a bike ride once and one of my friends offered me a energy gel pack because I broke the cardinal rule of not eating breakfast before exercising (needless to say I was dying even before we were half-way). I have often wondered if all these sports-related fuel lives up to the hype. According to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Heather Mangieri, MS, RDN, CSSD, it’s all part of marketing. Real food can perform the same function as these sports fuel, but it is more a matter of convenience than anything else. Also, some athletes may not be able to handle solid food during a workout to refuel, so sometimes these types of fuel may prove to be useful. But, there’s no secret or magic ingredients in these that make them superior to real food.
Eatright Article: How to Fuel Your Workout
Eatright Article: Timing Your Nutrition
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