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Fueling for Exercise

Diane Danchi, R.D., L.D.N. Diane is a Registered Dietitian
Diane Danchi, R.D., L.D.N.
Post by Diane Danchi, R.D., L.D.N. Diane is a Registered Dietitian at Rex Wellness Centers of Cary.

Have you ever felt like you needed to stop in the middle of an exercise session due to weakness? Have you ever felt nauseated or light-headed after a workout? Inadequate food and fluids might be the problem!

For those who do cardio and strength training several days a week for 30-60 minutes and have any of the above symptoms, these tips are for you…

EVERY DAY: Practice good nutrition. Make sure you are eating whole grains, lots of veggies, fruit, fat-free dairy, fish, boneless and skinless poultry, low fat meat, small amounts of healthy oils, and drinking 6 – 8 cups of water per day.

Fuel pre, during and post work-out
Fuel pre, during and post work-out

PRE-EXERCISE: Eat 1 -2 hours before a work out will give you adequate energy in the gym. Do not eat within 1 hour of exercise. The closer to exercise you eat, the less fat and fruit you should have. Fat slows down digestion (undigested food may cause nausea or sluggishness) and the fructose in fruit can cause GI disturbances. Carbohydrate and protein are important in a pre-exercise snack. If you’re eating 2 hours before exercise, try a banana and 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter. Waiting until 1 hour prior? Have a smaller snack such as a low-fat string cheese and 5 whole grain crackers.

DURING EXERCISE: Drink water! If you a have long session and perspire a lot, it would be a good idea to weigh yourself before and after exercise. For every pound you lose, you need to replenish with at least 2 cups of fluids. Water is the best choice, as sports drinks are not necessary for 30-60 minute bouts of activity. For intense exercise lasting longer than an hour, it is recommended that you have 30 – 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. Here, you could use sports drinks, sports bars or gels.

POST-EXERCISE: It is recommended to eat about 15 grams of carbohydrate (a piece of fruit or a slice of bread) and 1-2 oz of protein (low-fat cheese, yogurt, or peanut butter) within 10-15 minutes after a workout. You should have a meal within 2-3 hours of your workout. The meal should contain a whole grain, lean protein, veggie, fruit and small amounts of healthy fat. This helps with building of lean muscle mass and storing carbs for future workouts.

Now that you’re fueled, you have no excuse to skip that workout. See you at the gym!