Eat, Recover, Repeat

Summer is a time when many of us take the longer days and warmer temperatures to spend more time outdoors. In Fernie, there’s no lack of activities to keep us busy including hiking the Three Sisters, biking down Sidewinder or for the brave souls – training for your first triathlon. Inadvertently, this often leads us to spending more time exercising in the endurance, or aerobic activity zone. Not sure how to prepare for your next sweaty race? Follow these easy guidelines to fuel for success.

What you eat before training is key to feeling strong during your workout. Try to eat about two to three hours before exercise with an easy to digest carbohydrate snack such as fruit, grains and starchy veggies like sweet potato. Carbohydrates provide glucose to your working brain and muscles to keep you feeling energized. It’s also important your snack is low in fat and fibre, which are slowly digested, and can cause an upset stomach. Some great choices are oatmeal and banana, or quinoa and grilled chicken. It’s equally important not to forget about water here, especially during the summer months when staying well hydrated can be difficult - sip on one to two cups of water in the hour before your workout.

Never given too much thought to what to eat during exercise? Well that’s probably because for exercise less than an hour, water works perfectly well to keep you hydrated – aim for about three to four large gulps of water every 20 minutes. If you’re heading into longer events or activities such as half marathons or a big ride, try to have 30 – 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour. Simple carbs are key here to quickly get energy where it’s needed; such as sports drinks, dried fruits or energy gels.

Do you really need a snack or meal after working out? Re-fuelling after exercise is most important for two groups of athletes:
If you regularly exercise two days in a row, or more than once a day. If your exercise is intense, such as heavy weight lifting or long distance running. If you fall into one of these categories, you’re going to want to eat your meal or snack within the “Golden Window” of 30 minutes after you’re finished exercising. This is the time when your body is searching for energy to replenish its carbohydrate stores, known as glycogen. Some great carbohydrate choices are whole grain products, starchy veggies, fruit, legumes, and dairy products. Protein is equally important post-exercise since it provides amino acids as the building blocks to assist in repairing muscles. Aim for 15 – 25 grams of protein to optimize recovery. Healthy choices include lean meats, fish, milk, yogurt, eggs, nuts, legumes and tofu. Some great snack ideas include Greek yogurt, granola and berries or roasted turkey on a whole-wheat tortilla with mixed raw veggies.

In terms of fluids, the goal is to replace what was lost to sweat during exercise. A general guide is two to three cups of water for every pound of weight lost; however listening to your thirst cues can be just as effective. Sports drinks aren’t recommended unless you’ve exercised vigorously or sweat a lot – some contain more sugar than a can of pop!

As for any exercise or diet regime, one size doesn’t fit all. Although this is a guideline, those who compete heavily may need more nourishment and for the sensitive tummies out there, extra caution should be taken when fuelling for your next race or big day in the mountains. Get in touch with a nutrition professional if you’re not sure what this looks like for you.