Fuel your body right for Exercise

Posted February 2nd, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips

Whether you are establishing a new exercise routine, increasing your fitness or looking for ways to maximize your existing plan, your body requires proper nutrition and hydration before, during and after you exercise.

Nutritional guidelines specific to sports, cardiovascular and wellness nutrition are designed to help you understand how much, how often and what kind of nutrients your body needs to improve performance and recovery.

For example, before exercise, it is important to consume a carbohydrate-rich snack or meal, along with small amounts of protein to help build and repair muscle tissue and reduce post-exercise muscle soreness. Low-fat and low-fiber foods are best to ensure optimal digestion.

Three to four hours before exercise, you should eat and drink a small meal or snack. Ideas may include:

- Peanut butter and honey on toast with an instant breakfast drink;

- Fruit and yogurt cereal with low-fat granola;

- Oatmeal with brown sugar and almonds, skim milk and a banana; or

- Turkey and cheese sandwich with fruit and a sports drink.

In addition, approximately 30 to 60 minutes before exercise, you should eat a light snack such as a piece of fruit or a small jam sandwich. Also, drink plenty of water or a sports drink.

Nutrition and hydration during exercise also is important, particularly during prolonged exercise such as a marathon or long bike ride. This requires the proper mix and timing of fluids, carbohydrates and electrolytes. Too much can result in cramping or other intestinal problems. Too little hydration can cause dehydration, fatigue and impaired performance.

Easily digestible foods such as a banana, low-fat granola or nutrition bars are recommended during endurance training and events. In addition, you should always drink plenty of water or sports drinks that contain carbohydrates and electrolytes to help speed fuel to muscles.

For short duration exercise, less than 60 minutes, water is a good choice to drink before, during and after exercise.

Following exercise, eating for recovery is important to restore fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat, replace muscle fuel utilized during activity and to provide protein to aid in repair of damaged muscle tissue and to stimulate development of new tissue.

If you have two training sessions per day or your next training session is within eight hours, nutrition recovery is crucial. Ideas for recovery snacks and meals include the following:

- Fruit and yogurt smoothie;

- Sports drink and nutrition bar;

- Graham crackers with peanut butter, low-fat chocolate milk and banana;

- Whole wheat pita sandwich with turkey and veggies; or

- Rice bowl with beans, cheese, salsa, avocado and whole grain tortilla.

A nutritional plan tailored to help you achieve your personal exercise goals will help you maximize performance and results. Experiment with foods and hydration to create a custom plan that what works best for you. A registered dietitian can assist you in designing a program based on the amount and intensity of your exercise schedule and your desired results.

Whether you participate in sports activities, aerobics, weightlifting or a competitive fitness program, following proper nutritional guidelines is critical to helping you achieve your goals.

 

Staying Hydrated is Essential to Health

Posted September 15th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in The News-Press Column

You can improve performance by delaying dehydration

Hydration is often left out of nutrition, but it shouldn’t be. Staying hydrated is important not only to improving performance in sports and other activities, but it plays a vital role in helping maintain a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

Necessary to the healthy function of all internal organs, water must be consumed to replace the amount lost each day during basic activities. Water is also proven to aid in weight loss. It helps you feel full so you eat less, quenches thirst without adding calories and allows your body to function at its top capability.

Keeping hydrated helps muscles look more toned, a look that many people desire. Being hydrated also helps your skin look and stay healthy.

Water regulates the body’s temperature, cushions and protects vital organs, and aids the digestive system.

In 2004, the Food and Nutrition Board released new dietary reference intakes for water. It is recommended that women consume 2.7 liters daily and men consume 3.7 liters through various beverages, 80 percent, or in food, 20 percent.

Active individuals need even more, particularly if they’re exercising in hot weather. This is especially important during the 24 hours prior to vigorous exercise. During exercise, our body produces more heat, causing sweat to cool us down. When we sweat out our water supply, we must consume more water to keep our core temperature down.

In one hour of exercise, the body can lose more than a quart of water, depending on exercise intensity and air temperature. If there is not enough water for the body to cool itself through perspiration, the body enters a state of dehydration.

For people who regularly exercise, maintaining a constant supply of water in the body is essential to performance.
Dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and loss of coordination. Even small amounts of water loss may hinder athletic performance.

In a dehydrated state, the body is unable to cool itself efficiently, leading to heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke. Without an adequate supply of water, the body lacks energy and muscles may develop cramps. To prevent dehydration, you must drink before, during and after a workout.

During exercise, water is the best fluid replenisher for most individuals, although sports drinks help replace lost electrolytes during high intensity exercise exceeding more than 60 minutes. Keeping hydrated can improve performance by delaying dehydration and maintaining balanced blood-sugar levels during exercise. It also lowers the risk of catching a cold by boosting your immune system.

Drink 17-20 ounces of water two to three hours before the start of exercise. Drink 8 ounces of fluid every 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise or during warm-up. Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise. Drink an additional 8 ounces of fluid within 30 minutes after exercising. Drink 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise.

Water is your best option. Tea (non-caffeinated and unsweetened) and 100 percent juice, not cocktail drinks, are good alternatives if you just need something else. Sports drinks are also good for your body during and after exercise.

Coffee and alcohol don’t need to be nixed completely, but should be consumed in very small amounts. Two cups of coffee a day isn’t going to help your body and scientific evidence suggests alcohol consumption can interfere with muscle recovery after exercise and negatively affect a variety of performance variables.

As far as options that you should stay away from, soda is at the top of the list. While drinking one soda probably won’t hurt you, it provides little hydration. In fact, frequent consumption of soda can be more harmful to your body than any of the other drinks listed above, with the exception of alcohol.

In the end, staying hydrated by drinking water throughout the day and especially during exercise is highly recommended to support good nutrition and healthy living.

Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian and owner of Associates in Nutrition and Sports Specialty in Florida. Contact her at info@elainehastings.com or visit her at AssociatesinNutrition.com.