The energy to fuel your muscles (ATP) for physical activity comes from the energy in food by way of calories (from carbohydrates, fat and protein). If you want to lose weight and tone up it’s important to pay careful attention to the calories consumed versus burned. For workouts under an hour it’s not necessary to eat a pre-workout meal or snack. If you always feel a bit sluggish toward the end of your exercise session, consuming a piece of fruit beforehand or a glucose drink during should be sufficient.
Training lasting more than an hour may require an eating plan to keep energy up and maintain blood sugar during prolonged activity. Although a snack before hitting the gym may be in order, keep in mind that it should be in scale with the exercise load you are going to undertake. A 300 calorie shake for a 600 calorie burn only leaves you with a meager 300 calorie deficit. As a basic rule, keep pre-workout intake to about a quarter of your expected calorie burn and base it on easily digested carbohydrates.
Read our blog article on “Fuel Your Workouts to Maximize Your Results” by clicking HERE.
For endurance sports and prolonged aerobic work lasting over 90 minutes, a small amount of caffeine as found in one cup of coffee can be beneficial for the body to use fat for fuel. A 200-250 calorie snack ahead of time in addition to a glucose and electrolyte beverage during may be in order. For extended exercise sessions, protein becomes more important as a component in recovery.
I would also like to note that you need to be properly hydrated and have adequate vitamin and mineral intake for the body to convert food energy into ATP.
- Debbie J., MS, RD
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