High intensity workouts are certainly in the spotlight these days and fueling your body with the right nutrients to support your routine is an important step to ensure optimal performance and recovery.
Prior to a workout, your goals should center on ensuring adequate carbohydrates for quick energy coupled with smaller amounts of protein to help build and repair muscle tissue. It’s a good idea to keep this pre-exercise meal low in fat and fiber to help avoid cramping and digestive issues. You may have to experiment a bit with different foods to determine your individual tolerance. Examples of pre-workout foods may include:
-Low-fat cheese stick with crackers
-Banana with peanut butter
- Small non-fat smoothie
- Deli-style turkey sandwich with low-fat cheese and fruit
-Tuna salad sandwich with light mayo and fat-free yogurt
Water is one of the most important nutrients before, during and after a workout. Dehydration which can negatively impact performance and is a risk factor for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Although your individual fluid requirement may vary, it’s best to begin your exercise session well hydrated and minimize fluid loss through the following general guidelines:
- 17 -20 ounces of water two hours prior to exercise
- 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10 -20 minutes during exercise
- 16 -24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise
As the intensity and duration of your workout increases, so does your need for replenishing electrolytes lost through sweat. Therefore, you may want to consider utilizing a thirst quenching sports drink for a portion of your fluid replenishment for super intense workouts or those lasting greater than 60 minutes.
After a workout, your nutritional goals should center on carbohydrate replacement and protein to help the repair/rebuild of damaged muscle tissue. Ideally, your recovery meal should take place within 15-60 minutes following your workout. Examples of post-workout foods may include:
-Graham crackers with peanut butter with low-fat chocolate milk
-Yogurt and granola
-Whole wheat sandwich with turkey, veggies with pretzels
- Cottage cheese and fresh fruit
- Rice bowl with chicken and veggies
Refueling with the right nutrients at the optimal time may enhance your performance, help minimize abdominal discomfort and keep you on your game even through the most challenging workouts.
Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN), Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Eating Before Exercise: Nutrition Fact Sheet, April 2009.
Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN), Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Eating For Recovery: Nutrition Fact Sheet, April 2009.