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What do I eat for long exercise bouts? Recommendations for athletes.

Posted: May 04 in Activity Recommendations, Nutrition by
  • Thinking of doing a half-marathon in the next six months or planning to climb a Colorado 14er this summer? Is this the year you’ll finally do “Ride the Rockies?” To avoid “hitting the wall”when exercising for long periods, avoid high sugar foods like candy, regular sodas and fruit juices for 30 minutes before your workout, run or hike. Higher sugar foods may be used immediately before a SHORT workout if you’re just starving; However, this isn’t a good idea if you’re going for a LONG run, hike or bike. In that case, a mini-meal that is fat-free and low in protein and fiber works best. A glass of skim milk, a piece of fruit or a a few saltines are possibilities. Try different foods and keep track of which work best for you.

If you’re going to be working hard for longer than 90 minutes, eating some carb 30 minutes into the workout will let you work out longer and at a higher intensity. The goal is to eat 15-30 grams of carb every half-hour depending on what type of exercise you’re doing and how hard you’re pushing. Don’t wait until you’re pooped to start downing those carbs!. What to eat? Try fresh or dried fruit (keep up with your water!), Fig Newtons, fluid replacement drinks like Gatorade or Powerade, energy gels or Sport beans. Bars with higher protein, fiber or fat won’t digest quickly enough to get into your system.

The first 30 minutes after your workout are the best for replacing the muscle-carb (glycogen) that you’ve used up. A good snack goes a long way towards accomplishing this. You’re looking for 25 to 100 grams of carbohydrates. In addition, within the next hour and a half you’ll need to get another 100 to 175 grams of carb. To maximize your glycogen replenishment, add 50 grams of protein. You really don’t need any fat!

To find out if you are getting the carbs you need every day while training, calculate three to five grams of carb for every pound of your body weight. Remember to return to regular eating if you are not training. Our appetites grow as we expend more energy. If we’re not working out at a training level, we have to remember to cut the calories back down to baseline. Happy Summer! Have a great time!

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