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Focus on the right fuel for your workout

Elizabeth Hall, Community Contributor • Mar 21, 2018 at 4:30 PM

March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is to “Go Further with Food.” Regular physical activity is just as important to a healthful lifestyle as smart eating. Plus, what you eat before and after exercise can help you “go further” in your performance and recovery.

The principles of variety, balance and moderation apply to both your food choices and your physical activity. For variety, enjoy different activities that work different muscles. Challenging yourself with different types of activity at different intensities helps you improve in strength and endurance. 

Focus on a balanced exercise pattern as well to enjoy multiple health benefits. For overall fitness, choose activities that build cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, bone strength and flexibility. This also applies to your kids: Balance sedentary play such as reading together with active play. 

Lastly, remember moderation. You want to move enough to keep fit without overdoing it. At least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days per week is typically recommended. From there, you can start small and work your way up to adding additional time or intensity based on your fitness level.

Finally, remember to focus on the right fuel for your workout. For example, a low-intensity morning workout such as a walk or yoga probably requires very little fuel. Concentrate on hydration and a small carbohydrate-rich snack with protein and water, such as a mini-bagel with peanut butter and 16 ounces of water. 

If you exercise in the afternoon after work, try to eat a healthy lunch around three hours before your workout to sustain your energy. Give yourself a small energy boost approximately 30 minutes before exercise by eating a piece of fruit such as a banana or handful of grapes along with a cup of water. 

If you plan to eat dinner within a couple of hours after your workout, there may be no need for a post-workout snack. If your meal will be delayed, recover with 6 to 8 ounces of fat-free chocolate milk, 6 ounces of low-fat Greek yogurt, or an ounce of cheese with a few whole-grain crackers. And don’t forget to rehydrate!

Elizabeth Hall, MS, RDN, LDN
 Food City Registered Dietitian

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