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Fuel Your Workout
Julia Jordan and Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD |
Are you kicking off the New Year with a new workout routine? Whether you are training for a marathon or just trying to become more active, eating well will support your goals.
Working out without eating well is like trying to drive a car without gas (or a good charge). You won’t get very far. What and how much you eat will depend on your goals, but there are some general rules that should work for most of us. In the 1-4 hour window before you exercise, eat or drink some carbohydrates. The closer to exercise time you eat, the simpler and more familiar the item should be. Throughout the day make sure you are getting enough carbohydrates to match your intensity level. The harder the workout, the more you will need. If changing your weight is part of your goals, keep that in mind when choosing your food. If you are looking to lose weight, make sure you keep enough protein in your diet to maintain your muscle.
Hydrate & Recover
We are generally more aware of how important drinking water is when it is hot out. Cooling isn’t the only reason we need water, though. You will tire more quickly and not see all of the benefits of exercise if you are dehydrated. Keeping a refillable water bottle with you can be a good reminder to drink. After exercise, focus on giving your body what it needs to recover, especially after very intense exercise. This will help you be ready for your next workout or activity. Water along with some carbohydrates and protein is a good mix for most. Apple slices with peanut butter, yogurt with granola or a grilled chicken sandwich are good examples.
Increasing your activity level should help you feel more energized. If you find yourself feeling especially tired or weak overall, this could be a red flag that you’re not meeting your nutrition and fluid needs. Regular visits and conversations with your doctor can help identify and address issues. A Sports Dietitian can also help with an individual nutrition plan to support your activity goals. Find one at
Reference: Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116:501-528.