have read many articles in fitness magazines that have conflicting
information about timing your meals with respect to exercising.
Some say you shouldn't eat before, and some say you shouldn't
eat right after exercising. What are the appropriate waiting
times before and after? And also, does the timing change depending
on whether you are doing aerobic or anaerobic training?
I'll address pre exercise, during exercise, and post exercise
short answer is a healthy diet will cover all the nutrition
needs of regular exercise without any real special considerations.
There are exceptions with sports competitions and workout
sessions lasting longer than 2 hours.
generally heavy meals immediately prior to exercise interfere
with exercise through causing cramping or abdominal distress.
The general rule is to consume your last full meal two hours
prior to vigorous exercise or competition. If you are going
to be exercising or competing for more than 1.5 to 2 hours,
snacks like a banana or pure fruit juice (Rhino Fitness recommends
Planet Juice) before a workout are often beneficial because
they supply muscles with energy (carbohydrates). For exercise
lasting 90 minutes or less, there is no real need to take
in energy immediately prior to or during exercise as the body
stores more than enough carbohydrates for 90 minutes of activity.
If your workout is 60 minutes or less it is unlikely you will
require any replenishment during exercise if your food intake
for the day is otherwise good. If exercise is longer than
90 minutes or 2 hours, you may need to replenish carbohydrates
during the workout. It seems well accepted that a mix of about
6% sugar and water works well. Gatorade and PowerAde work,
but so does splitting pure grape juice with 50% water. If
using a premixed solution or your own mix, take in about 250ml
(1 cup) of the carb/ water mix every 15 minutes.
can also go old school and simply eat a banana or two during
long workouts. Many runners and cyclists use "gel packs"
a flavored sugary compound that is a little more thick than
molasses sold in small palm sized foil packets. You must drink
extra water when consuming gel packs; follow the recommendations
on the label. It should be noted that conditioned athletes
and exercise enthusiasts who are well conditioned typically
don't need any carb replacment for training up to 2 hours
in duration. If you know your 2 hour session is going to burn
off more than 1500 calories, then a carb replacement should
Perhaps the most important because recovery from your current
workout is where preparation for your next workout begins.
If your workout is 15 or 20 minutes there isn't any need for
post exercise replenishment, because such a short workout
is unlikely to deplete glycogen stores. For workouts lasting
longer than 60 to 90 minutes, eating immediately after exercise
can be vital if you are training or competing again in the
same day or the next day. Exercise increases the efficiency
at which you can load up your glycogen (carbohydrate) stores
in your muscles.
is a "glycogen window" that is wide open for about
20 minutes after you workout. After 20 minutes you begin reducing
how effectively you can reload your muscles with glycogen
and after about 60 to 90 minutes the window is effectively
closed and you are back to normal glycogen storing ability.
You need to eat the right amount of carbs and protein within
this 20-minute window. The ratio is 4 to 1 carbs to protein.
Both carbs and protein are absorbed better at this ratio post
brands of 1% chocolate milk are close to this ratio. Eating
a banana will do, so will eating half a bagel. How much to
take in? That is highly variable. It depends on how long and
how hard you exercised and what quantity of carbohydrates
you may have consumed during the workout, and how much you
weigh. Typically it is not more than 150 calories for easy
to moderate workouts and not more than 300 calories for intensive
workouts. You would then eat a regular healthy meal within
one hour. Post exercise nutrition can get more technical with
eating smaller amounts at specific time intervals, but that
is beyond the scope of the Ask The Coach format. Rhino Fitness
can custom design specific pre/ during/ post nutrition intake
for any person. If you miss your post exercise glycogen reload
you can count on starting your next workout with sub-optimal
exercise nutrition is important, but is over hyped by many,
especially those selling post exercise nutrition products.
Replenishing instantly after an aerobics class or spin class
isn't necessary since caloric expenditure is likely to be
less than 1000 calories. In this case, normal healthy eating
will replenish your stores. Post exercise nutrition becomes
critical for consecutive days of long intensive exercise or
consecutive days of endurance sports competition.
or anaerobic exercise doesn't change the guidelines I've suggested
here for eating and exercise with the exception that many
anaerobic workouts are shorter in total time and have more
breaks within the workout body than steady state aerobic workouts
and therefore some short but intensive workouts burn fewer
total calories than a steady state aerobic workout done at
the middle or high end of aerobic function. Shorter anaerobic
workouts require less or most often no calories immediately
post exercise - following a regular healthy diet will meet
all the needs of short workouts.
you are trying to lose fat and are reducing your caloric intake,
post exercise eating (where necessary) is not the place to
cut back. Reduce your calories at other times during the day.
- Cris LaBossiere