Pre and post sport nutrition - fuel smart, perform better

Let's be honest, if you enjoyed this video (and can relate), it's likely that you call yourself a triathlete, runner, cyclist or swimmer. Why? Because you love what you get to do and you enjoy the people who "get you."

But in order to keep up this awesome voluntary active lifestyle that takes you to start and finish lines, you have to be sure to properly fuel your workouts so that you can function well in life.
Everything you do with your body requires energy.

Did you know it takes energy to digest and process different macronutrients in your diet (thermogenesis). About 10% of your energy expenditure each day may be related to the Thermic Effect ...of Food (TEF). Protein has the greatest TEF and fat has the lowest TEF, whereas carbohydrates are in the middle.

I recommend a small carbohydrate-rich snack before your workout to boost energy and to improves fat oxidation. The benefits of food consumption—particularly of carbs—far outweigh any perceived benefits from fasting pre-workout from my experience in working with athletes (and as an athlete myself). After training, the TEF goes up drastically and more of the energy is lost as heat with carbohydrates so combine carbohydrates with your post workout protein snack.

REMEMBER: Time your nutrition around your workouts for this is the time when your body is under the most intentional physiological stress. You are burning hundreds of calories in a 1+ hour workout so the least you can do to respect your body is nourish it before, during and after the workout to ensure that you adapt to training stress.

Example: Before a 60-90 min workout (~30-60 min before) - 1 small banana + 1-2 tsp PB or 8 ounces milk + 1/2 large banana + 1 tsp PB
Glass of water + optional coffee/tea

During 1 hour workout: water or if needed electrolyte tablet and/or carbohydrates (20-25g)

Post workout - this is where the magic happens. There's great benefit to consuming protein soon after you finish a workout to enhance recover of damaged muscles and to stimulate protein synthesis. What else is happening when you properly refuel post workout?
You are also experiencing muscle fiber generation, increasing mitochondria, capillarization and metabolic changes. The idea recovery nutrition is around 20-25g protein in the post-workout period where the key amino acid to boost recovery appears to be leucine (essential amino acid).

You'd be happy to know that your recovery window is open more than 30-60 min post workout and instead 24-48 hours you are still recovering! This is why it is really important to keep refueling post workout and to not have one big meal post workout but instead to have repeated small doses of protein (20-25g) throughout the day post workout. 

But to repair quickly post workout, it's ideal to consume a high-quality protein (ex. dairy - which offers a mix of casein and whey OR vegan protein OR soy as a complete protein) as soon as you can post workout (and this will also help with overeating later in the day as well) as carbohydrate (either with recovery snack or with your post workout meal) to replenish muscle glycogen and to maintain stores throughout your training week.

An easy recovery snack could be 8 ounce cow's milk (or 10g vegan protein powder + 8 ounce almond milk) + handful of Cheerios (~20-25g carbs). 12-16 ounces water + optional coffee/tea.

Then real meal when you are ready.

Although I feel there is a place for sport drinks to meet electrolyte, fluid and carb needs during training, I am a big proponent of real food before and after training. Remember that whole foods will not only nourish your body to protect your immune system and reduce risk for disease/illness but will also provide your body with vitamins/minerals and other nutrients that you will use for energy during a workout and to help with recovery.

As athletes and fitness enthusiasts, it's important to think about food for fuel so that you can maintain your active lifestyle and reap the benefits of swimming, biking and/or running x-miles/hours per week.

There are way to manipulate the time of training w/ meal time (or the other way around) as well as modifying workouts/eating to meet energy requirements for body composition changes. But the bigger picture is to focus on performance if you are training for a start/finish line. If you struggle with your daily or sport nutrition for fueling or body composition, contact a RD who specializes in sport nutrition to help you tailor your nutrition based on your individual needs and goals.

Happy Training!!!

IMWI - 2010 (Enjoying my delicious post-IM breakfast while receiving my paperwork for my 2nd IM world Championship).