Good Nutrition: Your Best Training Partner
Whether you're training for a marathon or hitting the gym a few times a week, it's important to make every workout count. One way to do this: Focus on proper fuel for your body.
What you eat and drink during the day can greatly affect your energy and performance levels during exercise. It also can impact how quickly your body recovers. To get more from your workouts, talk with your doctor to develop a nutrition plan.
Choose Foods that Work for You
For most active people, eating a healthy, balanced diet will give you all the fuel you'll need for workouts.
If you're preparing for an athletic event, consider upping your intake of carbohydrates several days beforehand. Also, avoid high-protein and high-fat foods, like fried foods, on event day. They're difficult to digest. Your doctor can help you develop an individualized plan based on your specific nutritional needs.
Time Your Intake
How you schedule food intake also can make a difference. Try to:
- Enjoy a healthy breakfast. Refueling your body early in the day can affect the quality of workouts later on.
- Eat every 3 to 4 hours – 3 meals plus 3 to 4 snacks – to help maintain energy throughout the day.
- Have a snack 1 to 3 hours before exercise to provide muscle energy.
- If you regularly train for an hour or more, use nutrition to help your body recover post-workout. Have a snack that contains fluids, carbohydrates and protein, like a smoothie made with low-fat milk and fruit.
Don't Overlook Fluids
Dehydration allows the body to heat up faster, making it more difficult to get through a workout. To keep your body well-hydrated:
- Keep a water bottle with you and drink throughout the day.
- Drink about 20 ounces of water 1 to 2 hours before intense exercise. Then drink an additional 10 to 15 ounces within 15 to 30 minutes of the event.
- Take frequent water breaks during exercise. If the workout will last longer than 1 hour, consider sipping a sports drink instead of water.
Sources: Krames Staywell, Mayo Clinic