Real Food Refueling During Exercise

Maria leading a training hike to Camp Muir with the American Lung Association Climb for Clean Air 2004

Real Food Refueling During Exercise

Carbohydrate ingestion during exercise can reduce muscle glycogen breakdown. During a long hike, snowshoeing, or intense bike ride, replenishing energy stores is key. Some athletes rely on sports energy gels that contain quick-digesting sugars to provide a burst of energy and top off glycogen stores as they fatigue during longer efforts.

However, some endurance athletes do not want to consume a gel, a sugary sports drink or a bar packed with synthetic ingredients and prefer real food refueling. Real foods can be just as effective as sports nutrition products. Although sports nutrition products can be a good choice, not to mention convenient, whole foods are a good choice because of the wide variety of nutrients in them, including antioxidants. Antioxidants in food can help reduce oxidative stress, promote recovery and improve performance.

Fluids should always be consumed along with solid foods during training to aid in absorption of the carbohydrate. Read more on hydration.

Keep in mind that the real foods will take longer to absorb than a gel, and that the fiber content might be too much during races for those with sensitive stomachs. Some athletes have increased difficulty in digesting and absorbing food at high intensity. It might also take a bit of chewing. So, with all refueling regimens, practice and see what works best.

And utilize these guidelines along with optimal pre-exercise and post-exercise nutrition strategies.

The majority of athletes will perform better when they fuel properly according to these guidelines during workouts lasting longer than 75 minutes.

1:15 to 3 hours: 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour.

3+ hours: 30 to 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour

Use the table below to calculate how much you might need. The serving size of provides 25-35g of carbohydrate, which is the equivalent of most gels.

 

Type of food Serving size for 25-30g of carbs
Banana 7 oz. (31 g)
Raisins 2.5 oz box (35g)
Medjool Dates 1.5 dates (35g)
Small pitted dates 5 dates (40g)
Dried apricots 5-6 apricots (30-35g)
Dried pineapple 1.5 rings (30g)
Dried Mango, cut into bite size pieces 40 grams (34g)
Honey 1 Tbsp (28g)
Fig Bars 3 (33g)
Yoplait Original Yogurt Strawberry 2 gm fat 6 oz. (27g)
Boiled Potato 2 ½ “ diameter, 136 grams (28g)
Baked Sweet Potato 2 ½ “ diameter, 114 grams (24g)

Sources

What Should I Eat before Exercise? Pre-Exercise Nutrition and the Response to Endurance Exercise: Current Prospective and Future Directions

Metabolic and Performance Effects of Raisins versus Sports Gel as Pre-Exercise Feedings in Cyclists

Carbohydrate ingestion during prolonged exercise: effects on metabolism and performance

Performance Effects of Carbohydrate Ingestion between Bouts of Intense Aerobic Interval Exercise

Exercise and oxidative stress: potential effects of antioxidant dietary strategies in sport

 

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Healthy Hiking or Snowshoeing Lunch and Snacks

This is what I typically pack for me and my fiancé when we hike or snowshoe. It is easy to prep and transport and tastes so good on the trail. And, its full of quality nutrients to keep us fueled and aid in recovery for our long snowshoeing trips.

Whole Wheat Pesto, Turkey and Cheese Wraps

Granola, Cliff bar or Fig Newtons or Creative Snack Co.

Peeled Cut-up Oranges in a lightweight container.

Hot Coffee in a small thermos.

Water, I take several stainless steel bottles. You will want about 2 cups per hour.

How To Make Whole Wheat Pesto, Turkey and Cheese Wraps

  • Mission Organic Whole Wheat tortilla
  • Slice of cheese
  • Natural (no preservative) lunch meat
  • Pesto

Roll tightly and wrap in foil. Or for easier eating, cut into pinwheels and wrap in foil.

Pack everything into a lightweight container with a lid. I like using this 64 ounce GladWare container. It keeps everything from getting smashed in my pack and it happens to be the perfect size. I pack this container at the very top of my pack for easy access.

 

 

 

 

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Maximize Your Post-Workout Recovery with the Best Exercise Recovery Techniques

Rest and recovery after exercise is essential to muscle and tissue repair, strength building and subsequent performance. This is even more important after an intensive workout.

There are many types of recovery techniques that can impact perceived fatigue, muscle damage, and inflammatory markers after physical exercise.

These are the best methods. However, there is no best method for everyone. Choose a recovery modality that is best suited to your individual training schedules, preferences, facilities and equipment.

Get Adequate Sleep.  Optimal sleep is essential for anyone who exercises regularly. Sleeping is the body’s most natural way to take care of the recovery and provides time for the muscles to grow and repair.  Keep track of your sleep duration and quality and then assess and make a plan if necessary. So nap, sleep in or whatever it takes to get enough sleep.

Rest. Time is one of the best ways to recover. Your body has an amazing capacity to take care of itself if you allow it some time.

Avoid Overdoing Your Workout. One simple way to recover faster is by ensuring your workout is within your capacity and build up gradually to harder workouts. Trying to do too much immediately without a gradual progression for your body and muscle groups will limit your fitness gains from your workouts and undermine your recovery efforts.

Massage seems to be an effective method for reducing delayed onset muscle soreness and perceived fatigue. You can also try foam rolling self-myofascial release like shown here. Or use a massage stick.

Cooling Down means slowing down (not stopping completely) after exercise. Continuing to move around at a low intensity (gentle stretching or walking for instance) for 5 to 10 minutes after finishing your workout.

Replace Fluids You lose a lot of fluid during a long workout and ideally, you should be replacing it during the workout, and filling up after exercise is an easy way to assist  your recovery. Water supports every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body and having plenty of water will improve every bodily function.

Eat Properly.  A long workout will deplete your energy stores, you need to refuel to replace this energy, repair tissues, get stronger and be ready for the next challenge. Ideally, you should get serious about pre-workout nutrition, eat during exercise and eat within 60 minutes of the end of your workout and make sure you include some high-quality protein (15-25 grams) and complex carbohydrate.

Fueling for Performance for Hiking and Mountaineering

Fueling Up to Maximize Your Workout Muscle Growth and Recovery

This nutrition advice was written for my professional ballet clients but is applicable to all athletes. If you would like additional personalized advice, contact me.

Stretch. After a tough workout, consider gentle stretching. This is a simple and fast way to help your muscles recover. Here is a 6 minute yoga stretch video performed by one of my interns.

Perform Active Recovery. Easy, gentle movement including low intensity walking improves circulation which helps promote nutrient and waste product transport throughout the body. In theory, this helps the muscles repair and refuel faster.

Take an Ice Bath, Ice massage or contrast water therapy (alternating hot and cold showers) may help recovery. If you are interested in exploring this further, look at some credible meta-analysis study articles.

Compression Garments may be beneficial to recovery process. The type, when to put them on, for how long depends on what type of exercise you do. If you are interested in exploring this further, look at some credible meta-analysis study articles.

Listen to Your Body. The main thing you can do to recover quickly is to listen to your body. If you are feeling tired, irritable, have a higher than normal resting heart rate, are sore or notice decreased performance you may need more recovery time or a break from workout altogether.

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