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    Hey! I'm Beth - a 27 year old foodie living and working in the Washington, DC area who has lost almost 90 pounds through Weight Watchers. I love good food, wine and getting creative in the kitchen, and then balancing that out with running, The Shred, and yoga. Please feel free to browse around and hopefully you'll find some ideas, recipes and motivation!

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Fueling for Fitness: Perform Well and Recover Quickly from Your Workouts

Hello and happy Monday! It’s so weird to be back at work after the whirlwind that was the Healthy Living Summit… I want to go back to Chicago!!

Throughout the day on Saturday, there were several sessions covering different topics in healthy living. There were two tracks, so you got to pick which of two sessions you wanted to go to at any time. The session that I walked away from with the most pratical information was the Fueling for Fitness session, hands down. There were two speakers, both Registered Dietitians – Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, LD, ACSM who blogs at Balanced Health and Nutrition and tweets @ScritchfieldRD and Heather Calcote, RD, who blogs at Dietician on the Run and tweets @heatherdcRD. They talked about everything from what to eat before, during, and after a workout, how to stay hydrated, some cutting edge research in the field, and disordered eating and eating disorders.

I took 7 pages of notes during the session – seven!! It was so interesting and full of so much information. Here’s a few key things I walked away with:

1.) Carbohydrates are the key “energy nutrients” and we should be eating 3-12 g/kg of body weight per day. They are the main fuel in exercise.

2.) Protein is the body tissue nutrient and is used for structure not energy. We should be eating 1-2 grams per kg of body weight per day of protein.

3.) Fat is the energy reserve nutrient. It protects our organs and is harder to digest – so we should eat low fat before/during/after runs so that we’re not making our bodies work extra to digest the fats.

4.) For weight maintenance, an athlete’s plate should be 1/3 starch, 1/3 protein, and 1/3 veggies. Fat should be 15-35% of your daily calories, and mostly unsaturated fat.

5.) Casual exercises are defined by people who workout 20-60 minutes a few times a week. They should eat a meal or snack 1-2 hours before a workout, drink water 15 minutes before, water during the workout, and a snack/meal within 1 hour after they are done working out.

6.) Endurance Athletes are people who are training for races (like me!). They workout 3-6 times a week for 40 minutes – several hours per session, and sometimes twice a day.

  • Endurance Athletes should be eating high carb, moderate protein, and low fat + 16 oz of fluid 1-2 hours before a workout.
  • 15 minutes before the workout they should have 1 cup of water or sports drink. Some ideas are fresh/dried/frozen fruit, low fiber carbs (think white bread!), oatmeal, fig newtons, peanut butter crackers. NOT dairy or too much juice (GI Issues)
  • 2-4 oz of liquid every 20 minutes during the workout (water or sports drink)
  • Recovery nutrition as soon as tolerated after the workout, and then a meal/snack within 1 hour of finishing including carbs + protein. Ideas are smoothies, drinkable yogurt, thick crust pizza, boiled salted potatoes, fruit, bagels with cheese or peanut butter, chocolate milk.

7.) Hydration – use the 30 minute rule. If your exercising for less than 30 minutes, you are good with water. If you are going for more than 30 minutes, use a sports drink (gatorade).

8.) Fueling on the Go – Carbs are the main source of glucose and our body has enough store for 60-75 minutes of exercise before you “Hit the Wall.” Fuel BEFORE you feel tired. After 60-75 minutes, you should have 100-250 calories, and then every hour. Some ideas are gels, gus, bars, candy, honey or agave. Honey packets (like the ones in restaurants/Starbucks) are easy to transport and a great source of sugar while on the go.

9.) Chocolate Milk – this is one of the best recovery snacks. It has the ideal combo of carbs and protein and beats out sports drink in refueling. It’s inexpensive + effective plus it tastes great. I’m definitely going to try this one!

Whew! I learned SO MUCH in this session, but I think the main things I will take away are that I don’t need to eat while working out unless I’m going for more than an hour, and to use sports drinks (like gatorade) if I’m going for more than 30 minutes, rather than just water. I currently only use water which might be part of the reason I’ve been having trouble towards the end of my workouts. Also, eating low fat before work outs is ideal so our body doesn’t have a hard time digesting the fuel. So much information that is new to me!

Are any of these things new to you, or did you know most of this information already?

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25 Responses

  1. Wow… I will definitely have to drink some chocolate milk after my workouts. I never knew that! Thanks for sharing this helpful information. Glad you had fun at the Healthy Living Summit too!

  2. I didn’t know much of that. I never drink sports drinks when I workout. Guess I should try to incorporate some as I increase my running distances and length of exercise.

    • I’ll probably mix it half and half with water so I’m still getting electrolytes + some sugar but not overdoing it with calories. You can mix it up in your new Camelbak!

  3. Thanks for posting this! I’m sad I didn’t get to attend this one…

  4. Great tips, Beth! I think chocolate milk sounds like an ideal post-workout treat. But, then on the other hand, you usually make post workout smoothies, right? Those are kind of similar to chocolate milk…

    Anyway, no worries about the phone call on Saturday. I completely forgot you were going out of town. I’d love to chat sometime this week. I get off work at 5, so anytime after that is usually good for me.

    • Smoothies and chocolate milk are both good – but chocolate milk is definitely cheaper and easier to make! Call me any time this week!

  5. Any excuse to drink Chocolate Milk is good to me 🙂 Sounds like you learned so much at the conference. Wish I could have been there with you girls!

  6. My dad has been drinking chocolate milk after his long bike rides for years! Who knew he was on the cutting edge! 🙂

  7. Chocolate milk is the BEST recovery drink ever! I am always ultra excited when I see it after a race, and when I know I’m planning a really long workout at home I make sure to have some on hand.

  8. Chocolate milk is my all-time favorite recovery drink!!!!!!!!!!

    Also -I love the honey packet idea! I’m going to have to start swiping them from local establishments.

  9. Hmm… chocolate milk, I’ll have to try that!

    I used to eat honey packets before races when I was on the swim team – it’s a perfect boost of energy!

  10. Thanks for the information. It’s so confusing sometimes!

  11. Wow – I never knew that about chocolate milk!!!

  12. A few new things to me, but most of it I knew. I love the chocolate milk thing… the first time I heard that a few months ago I was in love! It’s my favorite recovery drink ever!

  13. I just wanted to point out that there are sports drinks with zero calories. I think Powerade zero is decent and it still has the electrolytes. It may be a good option unless you try to avoid artificial sweeteners and stuff…

  14. I heard the chocolate milk tip a while back . . . I think it really works. Plus a frosty sip of chocolate milk after a run is such a sweet reward!

  15. So interesting about the chocolate milk!! I can’t imagine drinking that post-workout… Beth, do you think you’d be up for replacing one of your frozen smoothies with a chocolate milk?!

  16. I have heretofore been so bad about not fueling up before and during long workouts. I am really trying to be better about it during this round of marathon training. I am also actually doing the speedwork! It’s killing me but very rewarding and I hope I see the benefit.

  17. I knew most of this information because I am a dietitian, but I still love to read refreshers! It keeps me up to date! Thanks for sharing!

  18. I remember when training that my nutrionist told me to refuel with chocolate milk. I never tried it because milk after running totally deterred me. Let me know if you get into it and how it goes for you! I’m super intrigued!

  19. Thanks for all the great info! I knew some of it, but it’s really helpful. I drink chocolate soy milk after long runs and it’s awesome. I am not a huge gatorade person, but I do mix water and coconut water after long runs. Do you use a camelback during runs? Also, do you bring gus/shot blocks/etc with you during runs? I’m starting to increase my milage while training for a marathon and trying to figure out how to bring all these things along with me! 🙂

  20. […] on. The first weekend was one of my best friends’ weddings, last weekend was the Healthy Living Summit, and then next weekend, the last one in August, I leave for NYC on Thursday night through […]

  21. […] attended two healthy living conferences, first the Healthy Living Summit last August in Chicago… and then FitBloggin in Baltimore in […]

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