If you’ve ever run out of gas during a bike ride or felt woozy in the squat rack you already know fuel matters. And it’s not a one-size-fits-all nutrition approach. Eating to perform on a 30-minute tempo session calls for something a lot different from what a two-hour run does.
In this guide, developed by OhioHealth sports nutritionist Dawn Holmes, RD, LD, you’ll discover exactly how much, what and when you should eat and drink when exercising:
Top Off Your Tank
3 to 4 hours before:
Eat a carbohydrate-rich meal to top off your fuel supplies and moderate protein for muscle recovery. Choose from among these options:
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, nonfat milk, yogurt with granola and strawberries
- Pasta with low-fat meat sauce and garden vegetables, bread sticks, nonfat milk
- Breakfast wrap with scrambled eggs, cheese and salsa
30 to 60 minutes before:
Go for easy-to-digest carbohydrates. Choose one of these:
- Granola bar
- Pretzels and banana
- Graham crackers
2 to 3 hours before:
Consume 16 to 24 ounces of fluid. Checking your urine color is a quick way to make sure you’re hydrated. It should be pale yellow.
- Sports drink
- Nonfat milk
- 100 percent fruit juice
10 to 20 minutes before:
Drink 8 ounces of water or sports drink.
Exercise longer than 60 minutes:
Consume 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. Some ideas:
- Sports drinks
Every 15 to 20 minutes:
Drink 8 ounces of water.
More than 60 minutes:
Drink 8 ounces of water or sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes.
30 minutes after:
The first 30 minutes after a workout are essential for recovery! Choose foods or drinks rich in carbohydrates (60 to 100 grams) and protein (10 to 20 grams).
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Two string cheese sticks, whole-grain crackers, apple
- Bagel with cheese or turkey
- Low-fat yogurt, frozen berries and banana smoothie
2 hours after:
Repeat above every two hours (twice), or consume a meal similar to your pre-competition meal.
30 minutes after
For every pound of body weight lost during your exercise, consume 16-24 ounces of fluid. Check your urine color.
- Chocolate milk, low-fat
- Recovery beverage with carbohydrate, protein and electrolytes such as Gatorade 03 shake or electrolyte drink, Endurox R4, Recoverite or Ironman Restore
Looking for more post-workout options? Find out our five favorite foods for recovery.