Food for Exercise: Fuelling Up for Best Results
You work hard to get results from your exercise routine, so don’t sell yourself short with poor nutrition prep. Fuel up before activity to get the most out of your workout. And include carbs during endurance sports lasting longer than an hour (including stop and start sports like hockey and soccer). Food for exercise is a key component to a winning regime.
What to Avoid, What to Include
Choosing food for exercise can be tricky. Your ultimate choice should depend on exercise length, type of activity, individual tolerance and preference. For example, most athletes prefer to avoid high fat, high protein, high fibre foods before exercise. This approach tends to minimize stomach upset. However, we are all individual. Some can eat these foods with no ill consequences. For others, food tolerance depends upon exercise intensity. For others still, food quantity is most important.
Many people choose to use commercial sports supplements but foods, like bananas, can be eaten as well. Above all, make sure you experiment with different foods and food timing during practice sessions. This way you avoid surprises on competition day.
To tailor carbohydrate guidelines to you, see the following recommendations about targets before and during exercise. Other elements like fluids, protein, and electrolytes are also essential. We will discuss these in future posts.
During Brief Exercise
-Lasting < 45 minutes
-Carbohydrates: Not needed
During Sustained High-Intensity Exercise
-Lasting 45-75 minutes
-Carbohydrates: Small amounts including carbohydrate mouth rinses
During Endurance Exercise (including stop and start sports)
-Lasting 1-2.5 hours
-Carbohydrates: 30-60 g/h
During Ultra-Endurance Exercise
-Lasting > 2.5- 3 hours
-Carbohydrates: Up to 90 g/h
-When eating > 60 g/h consider using carbohydrates from multiple sources like glucose and fructose for better oxidation of the fuel.
Nutrition planning is integral to achieve your optimal athletic performance. Gazelle Nutrition Lab delivers one-on-one or group nutrition counselling and consulting to both recreational and high-performance athletes. In addition, the Gazelle Blog is a free resource for healthy recipes and health tips. Have questions? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch!
*Table modified from Erdman KA, Thomas DT, Burke LM. Nutrition and Athletic Performance. The Position of Dietitians of Canada, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine. Dietitians of Canada, 2016 pp. 16.