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What should I eat when I exercise?

Posted by Be Well

What should I eat when I exercise?
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Regular exercise should go hand and hand with a healthy diet - binging on a packet of cookies and then working off the calories with a 10 mile run is not the best approach!


Following a balanced diet gives you energy to exercise longer and harder without tiring. We get energy from all types of food but the best source for the muscles is glucose, which comes from carbohydrates (sugary and starchy food). Glucose is stored in the liver and muscles, where it is readily available when you exercise.

The amount of carbohydrate you need depends on how much exercise you do, how hard you push yourself and how fit you are. The more glycogen you have stored in your muscles, the longer you can carry on for, which is important for marathon running or long distance cycling. Bread, cereals, fruit, beans and yogurt are good sources of carbohydrate. Avoid high-fat carbohydrates such as cakes and cookies.

Burning fat

During gentle exercise, you get most of your energy from fat. Exercising at a slightly harder rate uses more glucose and calories. If you keep going, you body will gradually use more fat in order to save limited glucose stores. The fitter you are, the more efficiently your muscles can burn fat for energy, and the longer you can exercise without getting tired.


There are many protein drinks and supplements on the market, and it's easy to think you need extra protein to work out regularly. Protein helps to build and repair muscles and is a source of energy, but it's only top athletes who may need a bit extra - most of us actually eat more protein than we need.

Drink plenty of fluids

It's really important to keep your fluid levels topped up when you exercise - this will help you perform better and recover faster. It's easy to get dehydrated without realizing, so don't wait until you feel thirsty, and drink plenty before you start exercising. Keep some water to hand while you're exercising and drink lots when you finish.

Drinking water is great for moderate exercise. The only time you may need a sports energy drink is if you're exercising continuously at a high rate for more than an hour. Sports drinks contain carbohydrates, which are easily absorbed by the body, and give you some extra energy to prevent fatigue. However, they're also full of sugar, which means they contain extra calories and can be bad for your teeth.

NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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