Fueling for Performance

If you are currently training or thinking about training for a race this spring please read on.  What you eat before, during, and after your program can be the key to your success.

  1. Hydrate:

Hydration does not happen during the event, it happens prior to.  Fluid consumption during exercise is referred to as “re-hydrating”.  If you start out already dehydrated you could be setting yourself up for major complications. The best way to monitor hydration status is to monitor the color of your urine. Your urine should be pale yellow.  If urine is dark then this is a sign you are dehydrated.

A general rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces.  On exercise days make sure to take in 6 – 8 oz fluid every 15 minutes. When exercising in the heat of the summer it is important to also hydrate with a beverage that contains electrolytes – sodium and potassium.

  1. Pre-Exercise Fueling Basics:

For optimal performance during training and race day proper fuel is essential.  Foods rich in carbohydrates such as whole grains, oats, beans, sweet potatoes, fresh fruits and vegetables should make up about fifty percent of your energy needs.  Since your muscles will only store carbohydrates (and not protein) as glycogen, it is important to fuel up on quality carbohydrates to ensure adequate glycogen stores for your event.

Pre-Exercise Fuel Sources:

  • Oatmeal with low fat milk, walnuts and fresh fruit
  • Whole grain bread with peanut butter and a little honey (my personal favorite!)
  • Whole grain bagel with almond butter and banana
  • Whole wheat pasta with chicken breast, vegetables and tomato sauce
  1. Fueling During Exercise:

A general rule of thumb is if you are exercising less than 1 hour you do not need to re-fuel.   If exercising more than 1 hour it is essential to re-fuel every 30 – 40 minutes. During exercise you body will respond better with simple carbohydrates compared to complex carbohydrates because they are easier to digest.

Fuel for During Exercise:

  • Bananas
  • Peanut butter and honey sandwich
  • Power Bar
  • Sports Drinks
  • Gu’s and other quick energy nutrition supplements
  1. Fuel for Recovery:

Immediately after a run there is a 30 minute window of opportunity your body has to up regulate and utilize nutrients to build and repair muscle tissue.  Consume quick digesting carbohydrates and quality protein for adequate recovery.  The more time that elapses after a run without re-fueling, the more your glycogen replenishment and protein repair is compromised.

Recovery Foods:

  • Smoothie made with skim milk, blueberries, and protein powder
  • Chocolate Milk
  • Low fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit, granola, and honey
  • Turkey sandwich with fresh squeezed juice

It is important to remember to never introduce new foods or beverages on race day.  Everyone is different and what foods can be tolerated by one may send another running to the nearest restroom.  If you would like additional information on customizing a nutrition plan to meet your performance goals contact me at yvette@foodtherpayonline.com.

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