Whether you are a beginner or a full-blown endurance athlete, don’t start your exercise routine without proper nutrition and hydration, says Kathleen Shafer, director of Nutrition Services for NorthBay Healthcare. “Eating right and drinking fluids can help you get the most out of your workout,” she says.
Nutrition tips to consider:
Stay hydrated. Water is good enough for regular exercise, but if you’re exercising for more than 60 minutes in hot, humid conditions, sports drinks or even chocolate milk may be a better choice because they replenish carbs and sodium. Water acts as your body’s cooling system, so be sure to drink about two cups of water before starting out so you won’t become dehydrated.
Your muscles rely on carbohydrates such as breads, cereals, pastas, rice, fruits and vegetables for quick energy.
You need lean protein for your muscles and your blood cells, which bring nutrients and oxygen to your muscles. Protein also helps your muscles recover and grow. Protein can come from a hard-boiled egg, glass of chocolate milk, cup of yogurt, whey protein shake, or slices of cheese. Aim for between 10 and 20 grams of protein in your post-exercise snacks. For endurance athletes, combine protein replenishment with carbohydrates at a ratio of 3 carbs to 1 protein.
Try to get your post-exercise nutrient needs from eating real foods vs. taking supplements.