12/19/2006

Eating and Exercise: Time it Right to Maximize Your Workout

From the Mayo Clinic

When you eat and what you eat can affect your performance and the way you feel during your workout. To get the most from your workout, follow these guidelines:

Wake up early enough to eat a full breakfast. "Most of the energy you got from dinner last night is used up by morning," says Stephen DeBoer, a registered dietitian at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. This. "Your blood sugar is low. If you don't eat, you may feel sluggish or lightheaded while exercising." If you plan to exercise within an hour after breakfast, eat a smaller breakfast or drink something to raise your blood sugar, such as a sports drink.
Time your meals. Eat large meals at least three to four hours before exercising. If you're having a small meal, eat two to three hours before exercising.
Don't skip meals. Skipping meals may cause low blood sugar, which can make you feel weak and lightheaded.
Eat after your workout. To help your muscles recover and to replace their glycogen stores, eat a meal that contains both protein and carbohydrates within two hours of your exercise session if possible.

What to eat: Getting the right fuel for your best performance

Carbohydrates: Your body's chief source of fuel Your body stores excess carbohydrates as glycogen — primarily in your muscles and liver. Your muscles rely on stored glycogen for energy. Cereals, breads, vegetables, pasta, rice and fruit are good carbohydrate sources. But right before an intense workout, avoid carbohydrates high in fiber, they may give you gas or cause cramping.

If you don't like to eat solid foods before exercising, drink your carbohydrates in sports beverages or fruit juices. If you're a long-distance runner or you exercise for long periods of time, you might want to consume more carbohydrates regularly and consider carbohydrate loading before a big athletic event.

Protein and fats: Important, but not your body's top fuel choice Protein isn't your body's food of choice for fueling exercise, but it does play a role in muscle repair and growth. Fat is an important, although smaller, part of your diet. Fats, along with carbohydrates, provide fuel for your muscles during exercise. Try to get most of your fat from unsaturated sources such as nuts, fatty fish or vegetable oils. Avoid fatty foods just before exercising

Water: Drink plenty to avoid dehydration The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you drink 8 glasses of water every day and more when the temperature and humidity are high. Drink at least one glass of water before and after your workout and every 10 to 15 minutes during your workout to replace fluid lost in perspiration. Avoid substituting water with coffee, tea or soda, because they contain caffeine, which acts as a diuretic, a substance that causes your body to lose even more water.

Water is generally the best way to replace lost fluid, unless you're exercising for more than 60 minutes. In that case, sip a sports drink to help maintain your electrolyte balance and give you a bit more energy from the carbohydrates in it.

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