We all know diet and exercise work together for the important healthy living equation. We know you need both to make the most out of a healthy lifestyle. However, when it comes to coupling the two together for properly fueling the workouts, things can get tricky. I get a LOT of questions about pre- and post-workout nutrition. What? How much? When? Do I need to bother?
All great questions and I’m going to do my very best to explain it, because it is definitely something to consider and that can certainly help you with energy, endurance, and recovery.
BEFORE A WORKOUT
- Consume a higher carbohydrate meal with a mix of slower (whole grains) and faster (sugars from things like fruits, dairy, etc) digesting sources.
- Take in 1 – 4.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight 1 to 4 hours before your workout. The longer until your workout, the higher your intake should be.
- If exercising for more than an hour, consume a high carbohydrate meal 2 to 4 hours before exercise to limit gastrointestinal distress during the workout.
- Regardless of exercise length, pay attention to your body’s system and how certain meals or sizes of meals sit in your stomach during a workout. To avoid gastrointestinal distress, aim for smaller meals closer to the workout time.
- Consume 16 oz of water approximately 1-2 hours before exercise.
How I Personally Apply It: I tend to eat 1.5 hours before my long runs. This would suggest I consume about 82 grams of carbohydrate at that time. My pre-run meal of choice = 1 larabar, 1 slice nine grain whole wheat bread, and 1 tbsp each of natural peanut butter and 100% fruit spread. Bam! 80 grams carbohydrate!
Other Great Options:
- fruit and toast
- granola or granola bars – like my homemade Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars!
- small serving cheese and crackers
- turkey/egg/hummus/etc sandwich
- whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or quinoa bowl with a lean protein source
- sweet potato
DURING A WORKOUT
- Fuel is only needed during exercise that lasts for more than an hour.
- The intake of calories during endurance exercise helps keep the supply of glucose flowing to working muscles, lessening fatigue.
- Consume 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate (preferably fast digesting sources of glucose) every hour.
- Make sure to also consume 20 to 40 oz of water for every hour of exercise.
How I Personally Apply It: During my long runs, I take a GU energy gel that contains 20 grams of fast acting glucose and electrolytes one hour into my exercise, then another every 30-45 minutes after that point, depending on the duration of my run.
Other Great Options:
- sports drinks
- sports chews
- dried fruit
- Fig Newtons
- I even know people who swear by Hot Tamales…ahem…Marcia or Coke (my girl, Kara does!)
FOLLOWING A WORKOUT
- Replenish fatigued muscles with a mix of carbohydrates and protein following exercise.
- Aim to consume 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight within 30 minutes of completing your workout. Also aim to intake approximately 0.4 to 0.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
- Continue the refueling process and replenishing your glycogen stores by consuming additional meals with 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight every 2-3 hours.
- Replenish with 20 oz of water/fluids for every pound of bodyweight lost after exercise.
How I Personally Apply It: SMOOTHIES!! I make my go-to smoothie of 1.5 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 frozen banana, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 Tablespoon peanut flour (for PB taste without the fat to optimize post-workout recovery), and a couple handfuls of spinach.
- low fat chocolate milk <<<< became a BIG fan after the Publix Georgia Half Marathon I just did
- low fat milk and whole grain cereal
- fruit and yogurt
- protein bars
- a whole wheat egg burrito
- one of Kristin’s protein packed treats
As you can see, there are quite a few delicious ways to fuel and get the most out of your workouts and trainings. We have to treat our bodies nicely and give them what they need. Now, eat up! Happy training!
What are your favorite pre-, during, and post-workout foods?