During Your Workout
The most important thing to remember during your workout is hydration. Water is a major key to giving you enough energy and stamina throughout your workouts. This is true particularly if you’re eating dried fruit, bars, or jerkies. Because these foods have such a low water content, you actually have to rehydrate them in your body so they can be digested. That means you need extra water to keep your hydration in balance.
Particularly for these longer cardio workouts, include simple carbohydrates (sugar) and electrolytes for better stamina and long-term performance. Grab an electrolyte powder like PowerPak or Enduralytes to put in your water. Make sure to snack on some fruit (fresh or dried) or lower-fat energy bars to keep your activity level at your peak.
Note that I generally recommend adding food during your workout if you’re working out for longer than 75 minutes. If it’s less time, you should be fine with water and electrolytes.
For your electrolytes, I love Trace Minerals, Skratch, or Enduralytes for your electrolytes. For carbohydrates: add some delicious fruit!
After Your Workout
After you complete your workout, it’s time to refuel. This is the time to get a generous helping of protein and carbs (fat is good, too!). We often focus on getting protein after a workout, but if you don’t have enough carbohydrates to refill the glycogen in your muscles, that protein is burned for energy instead of being used to repair and build muscle.
As soon as possible after your workout, refuel with at least 10g protein and ~15g carbs. But getting a full meal within 2 hours of your workout is another way to time your post-workout food.
Great Choices: High protein bar or shake, Happy Healthy Human Organic Trail Mix, or a huge, beautiful salad!
Your Post-workout food is one of the main determinants for how long it takes you to recover from your workout, so take it seriously! The faster you get fuel back into your body, the quicker you’ll recover and the better you’ll feel.
How to adapt this for shorter exercise:
If you’re working out for less than an hour, it’s less important that you eat directly before your workout. In fact, some people prefer to work out on an empty stomach! However, take time to notice how you feel when you do or don’t eat before your workouts, and find the right balance for you.
How to adapt this for longer exercise:
The longer you workout, the more important it is that you fuel during your workout with enough carbs and water. Researchers have found that it’s basically impossible to eat too much when you’re running or biking. The most important thing is to not only drink water but to include electrolytes while you fuel as well.
Find out what works for you
What I’ve laid out here is a guideline. You may find that your body feels better with slightly more or less food, or that you prefer sweeter or more savory meals. That’s why things like Trailfoody are so great! You can experiment with different meal choices until you figure out what works best in your unique body!
Enjoy the feeling of having your best workouts every time!
About the author
Samantha Attard is a nutrition PhD and founder of Happy Healthy Human, a company dedicated to helping people eat, move, and live with intention. Her line of organic trail mixes are meant to help you personalize your diet and can be found in our July Trailfoody box. Stay up to date with her yoga events and workshops, or contact her for one-on-one coaching at BeHappyHealthyHuman.com