Many people have been led to believe that they need to have sports drinks or energy bars during their workout to fuel their body. However, this may not always be a smart idea. New research indicates that you don’t necessarily need to grab that snack during your workout. Read on to learn more about the best way to fuel your body before, during, and after working out.
Companies that make sports drinks and high energy bars and gels have popularized the idea that you need to have extra fuel for your body while you work out. However, most nutrition and exercise science professionals agree that this is not necessary for people doing an average workout. Unless you are doing some kind of endurance exercise that lasts for longer than two hours, that snack during your workout isn’t needed. Refueling your body with drinks, gels or bars is not needed for shorter workouts, and may prevent you from getting the fitness gains you want.
If you are exercising for a long period of time, such as running a marathon, you should definitely plan to have the proper fuel in your body ahead of time. The body needs a steady supply of carbohydrates both before and during the exercise to help maintain energy levels.
There are many brands of high carbohydrate snacks to refuel while you work out. popular brands include Clif Shots, PowerGel, Gu Gels and more. These products are mostly made of glucose, to give the body quick energy that can be easily metabolized. Some also contain caffeine to give you an extra jolt of energy.
Anyone doing an average workout of an hour or less shouldn’t plan to make any of these extra workout snacks a part of their regular routine. Even a simple sports drink like Gatorade can add over 100 calories to your food intake, which negates half of a 30 minute workout. You should drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and can eat a small meal before you workout if you desire. However, avoiding any “extras” during your workout is a good idea, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
If you are engaged in moderate amounts of physical activity you should plan to eat post workout, though there is no need to overindulge. A normal portioned meal with complex carbs and proteins should be sufficient. Drinking plenty of water after your workout to rehydrate your body is also very important.
Only competitive athletes or people who participate in long endurance activities need to make significant changes to their diet and nutrition. Endurance athletes need higher amounts of proteins and carbohydrates to keep their body appropriately fueled.
Nutritionists recommend eating 3 to 4.5 grams of carbs and 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Fat intake should be fairly low, at 20 to 35% of the daily calorie intake. Athletes need to remember that proper diet and nutrition is an important part of reaching any fitness goal.