Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fuel During Exercise

From the last nutrition blog post, “Pre-exercise Fuel”, we covered how to eat for optimal athletic performance before a workout.  Now let’s focus on how to continue to fuel the body well during endurance exercise.

Goals of Nutrition During Exercise
1. Eat and drink your way to the proper fuel blend with a balance of carbohydrates and hydration.  Prolonged exercise requires the right mixture and timing of fluids, carbohydrates, and electrolytes.
            Tip: For continuous events > 1 hour, 30 – 60 g of carbohydrates/hour is
the goal to help spare glycogen (energy) stores. 
Tip: If you experience cramping or other stomach problems during
exercise, try eating less carbohydrates and/or drinking more fluid.

2. Drink enough fluids to make up for sweat losses and avoid losing > 2% of your body weight during activity.  Fatigue and impaired performance can result from dehydration.

            Tip: Find out your sweat rate or calculate your sweat losses to figure out
the right amount of fluids for you.  You may do this by checking your
weight before you exercise and after you exercise.  The weight lost is your
sweat rate not being accommodated by any fluids you ingested during

3. Individualize your plan to fit your needs- try different sport drinks and foods for different types and durations of exercise.  Also, experiment with the timing of foods and fluids to maximize your performance.
            Tip:  Keep track of your tolerance to foods and fluids consumed during
exercise along with the effects in order to adjust your plan accordingly.

Foods and Fuels to Consider During Exercise
·         Sports drinks with carbohydrate and electrolytes
·         Carbohydrate-rich foods such as:
o   Fruits
o   Bread or roll with jam or honey
o   Sports foods (gels, chews, etc.)
o   Small pieces of low-fat granola or sports bars
            Tip: Pair fluids with carbohydrate-rich foods to speed up fuel digestion and
transport to the muscles and avoid carbohydrate-rich foods that high in
fiber, fat and protein to avoid slowing digestion.

You’re not alone! A sports dietitian can assist you in designing a personalized plan that considers food preferences and individualized energy needs.

Leslie Lawton, RD, CSSD, LDN, CDE
Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics
Saint Vincent Hospital

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