Eating During Exercise

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Whether you’re a “weekend warrior” trying to stay fit or an individual that has lost their way and trying to get back in the swing of things to make a lifestyle change to healthy living, what you eat can affect how you perform and your mood throughout the day. Eating right can give you the edge to help energize your workout or reach that 5pm deadline. But which foods are best for fitness activities, and which should you avoid? With so many sports drinks, bars, powders, and supplements to choose from, how do you know which are best? Or can you skip the expensive supplements and get everything you need from a well-planned diet?

Fueling any exercise regimen requires quality carbohydrates, lean protein, heart-healthy fats and fluids. Your muscles rely on carbohydrate foods like breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits and vegetables for a quick energy source. Protein is essential in building and maintaining muscles and for healthy blood cells. Blood cells deliver nutrients and oxygen to working muscles.

Correct food and proper hydration provide the body with the essentials to keep up with your everyday tasks and stresses. Without these crucial fuels and fluids, your body will have a hard time performing at its best.

Monitor your hydration status through two simple measures:

  • Weigh yourself before and after exercise and replace lost weight with 2 cups of fluids for each pound lost.
  • Check the color of your urine. When you’re hydrated, your urine will be a light straw color.

Tips to Keep You Fueled and Your Body Energized

  • A good sports drink contains 14-15 grams of carbohydrates in 8 ounces. It should also contain about 110 milligrams of sodium and 30 milligrams of potassium in the same volume. If exercising to lose weight, stick to water or a “lighter” version of sports drinks with fewer carbs and calories.
  • Look for energy bars that contain about 5 grams of protein, with some carbohydrates (preferably with more naturally occurring sugars) and very little fat. Many energy bars are just glorified, expensive candy bars, so remember that “energy” means calories and watch out for high-calorie bars. They are helpful for athletes on the go, so if you can’t eat before a long tennis match, an energy bar can help.
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