How nutrition fuels fitness

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If your New Year’s resolution is to make 2018 the year you get fit and start a workout program, good for you. Along with a workout plan, you’re going to need a plan for healthy eating and hydration.

Here’s why: Sports nutrition helps us fuel our exercise and promotes rapid recovery. We need to start hydration and healthy eating between 30 minutes to 3 hours prior to our exercise. In addition, if our exercise is more than an hour in duration, we’ll need to make sure we are continuing to hydrate. To promote recovery after exercise, we will also need to continue hydrating and replacing electrolytes and protein.

The benefits of sports nutrition include:

  • Allows you to train harder longer
  • Delays onset of fatigue
  • Improves body composition and strength
  • Enhances concentration
  • Prepares the body for the next day’s workout
  • Helps maintain healthy immune function
  • Reduces the potential for injury
  • Reduces the risk of heat cramps and GI distress

What should you eat for a pre-exercise meal or snack? Kim Schwabenbauer, RD, LDN, CSSD, a registered dietitian, coach and professional triathlete, recommends a high carbohydrate meal/snack that is reasonably low in fat/fiber and that you have tried before (i.e. nothing new). It should be eaten 2 to 3 hours prior to exercise and should consist of 200 to 500 calories, depending on the duration and intensity of the workout. The closer you get to your exercise time, decrease the carbohydrate and calorie content of the meal/snack and choose a smaller snack. You can also include some lean protein — milk on cereal or Greek yogurt.

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