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Fueling for Exercise

Did you know your choice of fuel matters before and after each workout?

I always hear people decreasing their carbohydrates when they start to increase exercise. To increase performance limiting your carbohydrates is not ideal. We need carbohydrates for fuel, but we need to choose the right carbohydrate for the job! Simple carbohydrates (bagel, sports drinks, white rice, and etc.) before a workout is ideal especially within an hour of your workout. Complex carbohydrates (whole grains, beans, legumes, starch vegetables) are perfect for post-workout recovery.

Let’s say I have cottage cheese avocado toast on a high fiber wheat bread 20 minutes before leaving the house to go for a long run. Do you think this is a smart option to eat? This will make that long run a disaster. The carbohydrates needed will not breakdown quickly enough to produce the energy needed to sustain the run. Secondly, due to the high amounts of fat in this meal you will be in the woods pooping at least 1x during your run. (Yes, I have been there done that.)

What do you want before a workout:

  1. Simple Carbohydrates especially if eating 1 hour before
  2. Low Fat to protect the GI systems
  3. Quality Protein

Pre-Workout Meal Options

  1. 1/2 Bagel Toasted w/ scramble eggs
  2. Protein Smoothie w/ fruit
  3. Granola Bar
  4. Toast w/ hard boil egg

What do you want post-workout?

  1. Quality Carbohydrates- 0.5-0.7 grams per pound of body weight
  2. Quality Protein- 20-25 grams
  3. Moderate amount of fat- helps in preventing injury

Post-Workout Meal Option

  1. Chocolate Milk
  2. Peanut Butter Crackers
  3. Cottage Cheese Avocado Toast on Whole Wheat Bread
  4. Tuna and Crackers
  5. Hummus and Pita
  6. Banan and Peanut Butter
  7. Jerky and Fruit
  8. Energy bar/bites/balls
  9. Trail Mix

The one important thing about post-workout is timing of the snack/meal. You want to replenish your carbohydrate storages within 45-60 minutes post workout. This will help with recovery and get you ready for the next workout. All in all, planning your meals around your workouts are important for optimal performance. If you have further questions or want to work with a dietitian click here.

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