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The Eating Continuum for Pre-Exercise, During Exercise and After Exercise

Posted Apr 07 2009 6:00pm

If someone was to ask me what is the biggest obstacle that I have to overcome with someone I am working with it is convincing them they have to eat, and eat often! 

80%, if not more, of what you accomplish in the gym is directly related to your nutritional intake.

This post will focus on what you need to do pre, during and post workout.  Much of this information is taken from the book Sports & Fitness Nutrition by Liz Applegate.  This is an excellent book, and should be part of every fitness enthusiast’s library.

First, what is the purpose of food – “it serves as fuel for the body”.  There are three classifications of food that you need to be aware of and what their purposes are:  Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats.

Pre-Workout – Your emphasis prior to you workout should be on carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates will give you the energy you need for a good exercise session with plenty of energy. 

1. Eat a couple of hours before you workout. 
2. The meal should be high-carbohydrate, low fat and low protein.  Fats and Protein tend to be digested slowly and may lead to     feelings of being bloated or having an upset stomach.
3. Consume between 400 and 800 calories.  This should be sufficient to give you the energy you need, but not make you overly full.
4. Drink about 10 ounces of water before your session.  This will help replace the fluid you lose do to sweating.

Pre-Work Out Snack Ideas: 2 hours prior to your Workout.

1. 6 ounces of vegetable juice and a small potion of fruit.
2. A whole grain pita with a small portion of fruit spread.
3. A package of instant oatmeal ( I also like cream of wheat).  Mix with milk, and add alittle sugar.
4. 1 banana, slice of toast with.
5. Energy Bar and Water

During Exercise:

A lot of people do not take the time to meet their nutritional needs during their workout.  I understand, as sometimes eating or drinking can cause an upset stomach during a workout.  What I recommend is that your try a couple of different food items until you find something that does not bother your stomach, or you use a carbohydrate drink.

During Exercise Ideas:
1. Drink plenty of fluid.  A general guide is that you drink 5 to 12 ounces of water or sports drink for every 20 minutes of exercise.  I recommend just keeping a bottle of water with you and drink throughout your entire work-out.
2. Eat 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates for every hours of exercise.  I generally eat a protein bar, or carb/energy bar during my workout.  I prefer a carb/energy bar, but whatever I have typically works fine.

After Exercise:  This is a very critical stage!!!

Eating after an intense workout can be difficult; at least it is for me.  However, you need to rehydrate yourself, replenish your energy stores, and begin the muscle repair process.

1. Drink plenty of water immediately after your workout.
2. Eat a 100 to 400 calorie snack that contains both carbohydrates and protein.  The carbohydrates replenish the glycogen stores in your muscles, and the protein helps repair the muscle damage caused by your workout. 

After Exercise Ideas:

1. Protein Bar – This is by far the easiest.  I usually eat it on my way home.
2. Protein Drink – Here again, very easy, but takes alittle time to prepare if you are using a mix.

If your new to exercise don’t get all worked up about what to eat, just be sure you eat something (a bag of chip and a soda does not count though).  You will figure out pretty quick what types of food your stomach can tolerate before, during and after exercise. 

If you have any questions about meal planning please contact me at

Remember – Get to the Gym!!!

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