What to Eat When Working Out

Fitness, News and Advice, Nutrition
on June 1, 2010

Whether it’s a routine pre-work walk, a cut-throat doubles match or a scenic trail hike, how you fuel your body during a workout is important — but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Use these simple tips and food combos to get (and keep!) you going this summer.

The Regular Morning Workout
Activity: Fitness walking, running, aerobics — anything that gets your heart pumping for 30-60 minutes.
Before: If it’s not too early, try a low-fat, high-carb snack at least a half hour before exercise. Half a bagel or a banana will fuel your workout without overloading your stomach; just avoid high-fiber options. Use your judgment for super-early workouts; if you tend to run out of steam midway through, at least have a swig of OJ before heading out the next time.
During: Drink 1/2 cup water for every 15 minutes of activity.
After: Refuel within an hour with easily digestible carbohydrates plus some protein. Try low-fat chocolate milk and peanut butter crackers, orange juice and an English muffin with cheese, or pita bread with hummus and grapes. Rehydrate with 1 to 2 cups water.

The Stop-and-Go Workout
Activity: One to two hours of tennis, basketball, volleyball or other anaerobic exercise involving high-intensity spurts of activity.
Before: Carbohydrates combined with a bit of protein about two hours before your workout will give you sustained energy. Consider one pancake with fresh fruit, a banana and yogurt smoothie or a cup of vegetable soup with crackers.
During: Drink 1/2 cup water for every 15 minutes of activity. If you plan to play for more than one hour, switch to a low-sugar sports drink to replace lost electrolytes.
After: A combination of carbs, protein and potassium within 30 minutes of your workout will optimize muscle recovery. Try a baked potato topped with vegetarian chili, an egg white sandwich and cantaloupe or a turkey sandwich with sliced tomatoes. Rehydrate with at least 2 cups water.

The Long, Steady Workout
Hiking, kayaking, cycling for two hours or more.
Before: Two hours prior to activity, choose a complex carbohydrate-heavy meal to keep your energy up for extended periods. Best bets: oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit, bean soup, or peanut butter on whole wheat toast with sliced apple.
During: Drink 1/2 cup water for every 15 minutes of activity. After 90 minutes to 2 hours, switch to a low-sugar sports drink. Pack a “pick-me-up” snack like trail mix, peanut butter crackers or a granola bar.
After: Eat a balanced meal within 60 to 90 minutes of finishing activity. Examples: Small bowl of pasta with shrimp, chicken breast with rice and mixed vegetables, or a slice of veggie pizza. Rehydrate with at least 2 cups of water.