What do I drink and eat
While training? While resting?
What should I drink and eat while Iâ��m training?
While exercising, try to maintain fluid, electrolyte, and glycogen levels.
FLUID: Your body needs fluids to manage core temperature and keep blood moving smoothly through the working muscles. Dehydration will cause fatigue and even injury. Take sips of water throughout your workout. If you are swimming, keep a bottle of water by the pool and drink in between laps. If you are bicycling, drink from your water bottles frequently and make sure you plan ahead to keep your bottles full. If you are running, hydrate yourself well before you start. You can also carry water with you, stop along the way, or stash a bottle in a bush to drink from during a long run.
ELECTROLYTES: If the workout is longer or done in hot weather, you will also need to replace the electrolytes lost through perspiration. Electrolytes are nutrients such as potassium and sodium that are necessary for the nerves and muscles to function. If you are replacing water but not electrolytes during a long workout, or any workout in hot weather, you risk damaging your kidneys and worse. By ingesting more and more water in response to a feeling of thirst, your efforts could be backfiring â�� you could be decreasing the percentage of electrolytes circulating in your blood even further and causing hyponatremia.
GLYCOGEN: Muscles need glycogen (stored glucose) to function â�� this is their fuel. Glycogen is stored mainly in the liver and the muscle tissue and gets pulled into the muscles for conversion to energy during exercise. There is only about two hours worth of glycogen stored in the body, so replacing what you are using before levels get too low is very important. Running out of glycogen can lead to the famous â��bonkingâ�� or "hitting the wall" effect. If your brain senses that the glycogen levels are too low, it will actually reduce the number of muscle fibers that fire â�� so you will not only feel weaker, you will literally be weaker, and eventually you wonâ��t be able to move at all. The brain will shut down your muscles before all the glucose supplies (including its own) get completely used up.
Eat a healthy meal before any workout. Timing is important; if you eat too soon before exercise you could end up feeling uncomfortable and unable to train. But the tank needs to be full for your body to function effectively. If you plan to train in the morning, eat a small healthy meal just before bed and never skip breakfast (a smoothie works well as a pre-workout meal: juice, yogurt, and banana).
For shorter training sessions (an hour or less) you may want a sports drink, a gel, or just plain water. For longer training sessions, especially those over two hours, keep the glycogen available to your muscles by taking in calories from sports drinks, gels and/or easily digested food. Be sure not to overeat. Too much food in your stomach will divert blood from your muscles and get converted to fat instead of glycogen. (A 180 pound individual can convert about 200-250 calories to glycogen per hour during exercise, but there will be individual variations. Experiment to find the balance that feels right for you.)
Be sure and eat a healthy meal immediately after a long workout. Your body is in replenish mode then and will convert what you eat directly to glycogen to replace the stores that have just been used up. Include some carbohydrates, a little bit of protein and fats, and lots of water. By replacing the glycogen quickly, you will reduce muscle soreness and speed recovery.
What should I drink and eat when Iâ��m not training?â��You donâ��t build fitness during exercise, you build it during rest and recovery.â�� This training adage can be a helpful daily guide since the food you eat will give your body the materials it needs to build strength and endurance during rest. The better your choices, the better your end results. If you pay close attention to what you eat and when, you will find yourself sleeping better, getting sick less often, noticing greater athletic improvements following your training sessions.
WATER: Hydration keeps your body functioning and healthy. Most of us donâ��t drink enough water throughout the day. Keep a refillable water bottle at your desk or wherever you are during the day to keep a steady flow of water going into your body. The better hydrated you are, the easier it is for your body to maintain its daily metabolic, cell-repair, and immune system functions.
FOOD: There is always some new diet on the market that is supposed to be the latest & greatest tool for: â��____â�� (weight loss, anti-aging, building muscle, etc.), but the basic concepts of nutrition can serve anyone well. Balance your meals by eating grains or other starches, some vegetables or fruit, and a small amount of protein and healthy fat (olive oil, flax oil, avocado, walnuts, etc.) with each meal. Minimize processed foods and sweets (especially hydrogenated fats and high fructose corn syrup! these substances were created purely for corporate profit margins and extending shelf life). And never skip meals â�� try to keep your blood sugar level throughout the day.
As often as possible, choose foods that are organic, seasonal, and locally grown. Go easy on (or eliminate entirely) caffeine and alcohol since they can wreak havoc with adrenalin, growth hormone, and blood sugar levels, and sleep. Try using the amount of fiber in food as a way to rank your choices for each meal by always choosing the food that is closest to its natural state. The less your food has been processed (i.e. the more natural fiber it contains) the healthier it is and the more nutrients it will contain for your body to use. Also eat a wide range of colors each day, from dark-green and deep-yellow to bright red.
Thanks to Angela Wagner for helping write this page
Angela Wagner is a writer, avid road cyclist and former competitive distance runner. After placing 3rd in the San Francisco marathon, her body told her to stop pounding the pavement and get a bike. She hasnâ��t looked back. Much thanks to Jesse McCann, former road racer and one-time Mavic staffer, for helping punctuate a few thoughts.
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