Whether you exercise a few times per week or compete in triathlons regularly, nutrition plays a huge role in your overall performance and recovery. It is important to remember that carbohydrates are the fuel for your muscles while protein is useful for priming, building and repairing your muscles.
Before a run or workout, if you eat too little, you may find that you are exhausted and feel like you have no energy to continue your run or workout. If you eat too much, your stomach may cramp up and leave you with an uncomfortable feeling the rest of your run or workout.
Luckily, with these quick tips and simple snack ideas from former OrthoIndy nutritionist Jessica Regan, you can get it ‘just right” before your run, race or workout.
Try to eat a small snack that includes a protein and carbohydrate about one to three hours pre-exercise. Eating too close to your workout may cause your stomach to get upset and can cause a decrease in performance since your body is focusing on trying to digest the food.
A few pre-exercise snack ideas include:
- A rice cake or multigrain piece of bread with peanut butter and honey
- Fruit and Greek yogurt. However, be cautious with the amount of fruit since some items can be loaded with sugar
- A cheese stick and pretzels
- A healthy trail mix bar or protein bar
- A banana with peanut butter
What to eat after a run or workout is just as important as what you eat before a run or workout. It is important to replenish fluids and nutrients to your body. Try to eat within 15 minutes of completing an exercise to help your body instantly replenish the glycogen to repair your muscles.
Choose a meal or snack with mainly carbohydrates and some protein such as:
- Low-fat chocolate milk
- Fruit smoothie with low-fat milk or almond milk
- Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread
- Fruit such as bananas and strawberries
However, if your stomach starts to tell you that it is hungry minutes before an exercise, eat something small.
A few last minute snack ideas include:
- Eat a handful of almonds or a granola bar
- A banana
- A protein bar
- A hard boiled egg
If you are a triathlon runner, a 5k runner, a cyclist, cross fitter or someone who prefers to simply walk, these snack ideas apply to anyone who wants to live a healthy lifestyle regardless how active you are. Always listen to your body; do not ignore it!
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