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June 12 - Maximize Your Workouts with Food

Nutrition is a vital part of exercise and sports training – the right food choices equal better results. Think you’ll see faster results by eliminating food before or after you train? Think again. Skipping meals can limit the body’s ability to shed fat and build lean muscle mass. Proper intake before exercise provides the working body with fuel for a stronger, more efficient workout. A balanced post exercise meal or snack can replenish used up nutrients for a faster recovery. And let’s not forget water; nearly two thirds of the body is water and performance declines if we don’t have enough. Your challenge today to follow Registered Dietitian Elise’s recommendations for proper pre and post exercise nutrition.

  • Hydration: Generally speaking men need approximately 3 liters and women need approximately 2.2 liters. If you exercise heavily for over an hour, sports drinks containing both sodium and glucose (sugar) are important to replenish depleted carbohydrates and electrolytes.
  • Food for Fuel: When it comes to fueling our activity, carbohydrates are king. Carbohydrates fuel the working muscle. Protein also plays an important role in building and repairing muscle tissues, but eating protein alone will not build muscle mass. Getting adequate carbohydrates and protein both pre and post workout is key.
  • When and What to Eat: Eat a meal several hours before a workout and snack 30-60 minutes prior. It’s not recommended to eat directly before working out, as GI upset can occur. Also, pass on high fat and high fiber foods right before exercising, and foods you’ve never tested before.
  • Post Workout Nutrition: Your body uses stored energy (glycogen) in your muscles to power through your workout. To replenish these depleted nutrients, get carbohydrates and protein into your body. Aim for a 3:1 ratio of grams of carbohydrates to protein within a meal or snack 15-20 minutes after working out and continue to consume regular, balanced meals throughout the rest of the day. This allows your muscles to replenish the glycogen lost and helps tired muscles repair and rebuild.

Pre-workout fuel ideas:

  • A peanut butter and banana or PB&J sandwich
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt with fresh berries
  • Oatmeal with fruit and nuts

Post-workout ideas include:

  • Low-fat chocolate milk
  • Turkey on a whole-grain wrap with veggies
  • Lean steak or chicken stir fry with brown rice and veggies

My name Elise Compston and I am the Registered Dietitian at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center. I am responsible for developing and teaching a variety of nutrition classes and counseling families and individuals. My preferred pre workout snack is ½ cup vanilla Greek yogurt, a small banana, and 4-8 oz of water 30-60 minutes before working out. I typically have 1 cup of low-fat strawberry milk and 16 ounces of water immediately after a workout, followed by a well-balanced meal an hour later.