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July 17th, 2009 No Comments

Nothing is more important than making sure you have enough fuel to keep you going during a workout, but people always want to know what, how much, and when to eat/drink. Here are some guidelines to getting some gas in your tank, some adapted from this article:

  • Think of food as a part of your equipment. When buying running shoes, you have to try a couple different pairs on to find out what fits and what doesn’t, right? Well, the same is true of fueling your workouts. You might have to do some trial and error to find out what works and what doesn’t.
  • Be Goldilocks. You have to experiment to find out how much is too much food and how much is too little. Too much, and you’ll get cramps. Too little, and you’ll feel weak and tired before your workout is over. Aim for a fist-size amount of food in the 150-200 calorie range.
  • Follow the hour rule. For both water and food, consume about an hour before your workout. This gives your body plenty of time to digest and get hydrated before you start sweating. If you’re working out for more than an hour, you may need to refuel with some fast-digesting carbs (30-60g per hour) during the workout.
  • Think carbs + protein. The ideal workout snack consists of mostly carbs and some protein. A piece of whole grain or sprouted bread with nut butter is a perfect pick. I add banana if I know my workout is going to be especially tough. Dried fruit and nuts are also a great pre-workout snack (think Larabar or trail mix). Have another carb + protein snack immediately following a workout, ideally within 15 minutes, to help muscles recover. I like recovery smoothies with spinach, hemp protein, flaxseed, almond milk, and banana.
  • Keep it regular. Eating smaller meals (300-500 calories) at regular times throughout the day tends to work well for heavy exercises. You’ll never feel weighed down and you’ll always be fueled.
  • The more you sweat, the more water you need. This seems pretty obvious, but if you’re a heavy sweater, you’re going to need more water than the girl next to you who only “glows.” Use the shirt test: the more soaked your shirt, the more you need to gulp.
  • Go cuckoo for coconut water. I’ve discussed the joys of coconut water in the past, but I’ve made it a habit to drink about 10 ounces of the stuff before a longer run or tough workout. It seems to effectively prevent cramping (it contains potassium as well as all other electrolytes found in sports drinks). Plus, it’s downright delicious!

Do you have any tried-and-true pre- or post-workout snacks?

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