By Kevin M. DuPrey, D.O.
We all know that eating a balanced diet and exercising are important aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Knowing how, what and when to eat can help you get more out of your exercise routine and allow you to feel better doing it. Here are some tips to fuel your workout:
1. Be a Grape, not a Raisin
Staying hydrated will make exercise feel easier, as dehydration can cause early fatigue, cramping, and increased muscle soreness afterward. Overnight, you lose water through sweat, breathing, and your body’s natural metabolism. So, when you wake up, you are already dehydrated. Get in the habit of starting your morning off with a large glass of water. Try to drink plenty of fluid throughout the day and avoid large amounts right before your workout, as this can lead to stomach cramps.
2. Pre-workout Meal
Feeling too hungry or too full can ruin your workout. To avoid this, try to eat a small carbohydrate snack 2-3 hours before your workout. Avoid foods high in protein, fiber, and fat, as these stay in your stomach longer. Examples of good pre-workout snacks include a banana or bagel with jelly.
3. During Your Workout
Eating during your workout should generally be avoided, unless you are doing sustained aerobic exercise for more than 90 minutes, or are diabetic. If you are doing a long run for marathon training, then aim for a small easily digestible carbohydrate snack that won’t slow you down, such as energy gels or a banana.
Throughout your workout, small sips of water can be helpful to prevent dehydration, especially if you are a heavy sweater or are wearing a heavy sweater. For aerobic exercise lasting longer than an hour, make sure you get some salt with your water too, to prevent a condition called “hyponatremia” which happens when drinking excessive amounts of water with no salt. Sports drinks can be helpful for prolonged aerobic exercise but really aren’t necessary to stay hydrated for shorter workouts.
4. After Your Workout
Try to eat a snack that has both carbohydrates and protein within one hour of finishing your workout. This can help prevent you from feeling sore and tired the next day, as your muscles need carbohydrates to replete their glycogen stores and protein to repair themselves. Aim for about 50 grams of carbohydrates (200 calories) and 15-20 grams of protein. Chocolate milk has been shown to be a great post-workout fuel as this contains a nice ratio of carbohydrates to protein.
About the Author
Dr. DuPrey specializes in sports medicine and enjoys working with patients of all ages and abilities to allow them to return to the activities they enjoy in the safest and most effective manner. His holistic approach is to look at the whole picture and help prevent future injuries.