Nutrition Before, During & After Exercise

Photo Credit: Evan-Amos CC0 1.0 PD
Athletes who train every day and the weekend walker and everyone in between needs hydration and nutrition to stay energized and get the most from their workout. Fueling your body before and during a workout can give you that extra edge. Eating the right things after a workout provides the nutrients and trace elements your body needs to repair and recover. Should you eat some of energy bars, chug a sports drink between exercises or can you get all the nutrition and energy you need from a balanced diet? 
Before exercise, the best foods for strength, endurance and energy will contain carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates fuel your body and protein is necessary to repair and maintain muscle. Carbohydrates and protein are found in lean meats, whole grain breads, pasta, rice, many fruits and vegetables. A good pre-exercise meal will be low in fat, low in fiber but contain a moderate amount of carbohydrates and protein. Too much fiber will fill you up and make you feel a little sluggish. Drink a large glass of water with your pre-workout meal and drink a second glass of water just before you start to exercise. A sports drink that contains electrolytes and trace nutrients is a good idea if you plan to exercise for 1 hour or longer. 

During your workout it’s a good idea to have a light snack between exercises or during a break in the action if you are playing a sport. Eat a few slices of apple, orange or some grapes to replenish your body’s supply of natural sugars and antioxidants. Refuel your muscles with some carbohydrates available in low-fat cheese slices and whole grain crackers. A handful of granola, some dried fruit or a cup of fruit juice are also good choices to re-energize your body. 

After your workout, you need to replenish the nutrients your body needs to repair and recover. Your muscles need protein to repair and grow, as well as complex carbs to refuel your muscles for the next workout. Lean meats, eggs, whole grain pasta and breads, low-fat dairy  foods, beans and rice are good sources of protein. 
Muscles need protein for recovery and growth, and the best time to deliver protein appears to be right after exercise. Providing high-quality protein after exercise gives your muscles the fuel and the building blocks needed for both repair and for growth. A protein shake can also replenish your body’s store of protein. Remember to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to stay hydrated. 

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