Hydration and nutrition for workouts
When I first started training I did not think too much about what to eat and drink before, during, and after workouts. As it turns out, how you fuel can make a big difference on how well you perform and recover. Below is a simple, straight-forward summary of what you need to know about fueling for your workouts.
Proper hydration is extremely important, and it becomes even more crucial when training in high temperatures and indoors.
YOUR BODY USES MOST OF ITS ENERGY TO KEEP YOU COOL. ONLY ABOUT 25% OF THE ENERGY THE BODY PRODUCES IS CONVERTED TO MECHANICAL WORK (E.G., TO MOVE YOUR LEGS); THE REMAINING 75% IS HEAT.
Therefore, if you are not well hydrated, your blood volume drops, your heart rate increases, and you have less oxygen delivered to your working muscles. Even a 10% hydration deficit can compromise performance.
Hydrate all day
As an athlete, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day so that you start your workout well hydrated and replenish fluid loss after your session. In addition, focus on additional water intake in the hours leading up to your workout.
Pure water is fine for workouts lasting no longer than 90 minutes under normal temperatures. For workouts lasting longer than 90 minutes, or if you lose a lot of sodium during workouts (i.e., you are a “salty sweater”), I recommend that you add electrolytes to your water.
Electrolytes help your body replace fluids faster, deliver oxygen to your working muscles and keep your engine running smoothly. Water alone won’t have the same effect when the sweat rate is high, the workout is long, or the temperature is high.
As a general rule, you will need to eat carbohydrates before high intensity workouts. Aim for about 60 grams of slow-release carbs and eat them with 10-15 grams of protein 60-120 minutes before such workouts.
Examples of low-release carbs are oats, whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, and quinoa. My favorite snack for hard workouts lasting 90-120 min is a combination of banana, oats, whey protein and almond butter, as shown below:
If you workout early in the morning, make sure to eat carbs the night before. You could then eat something small before the workout such as bananas with almond or peanut butter.
Food during workouts and rides
You won’t need to eat anything during workouts lasting up to 60 minutes. You might consider eating 30 grams of fast-release carbs during very intense workouts lasting 90 minutes.
For workouts and rides longer than 90 minutes, plan to eat about 40-60 grams of carbs every hour. I like to eat smaller amounts more often, usually every 40 minutes. See what works best for you. These are just general guidelines, so feel free to adjust as needed. Everyone is a little different.
Good examples of what to eat during workouts and rides are bananas, energy bars, baby potatoes, and home-made rice cakes. If I have a very intense workout with some serious efforts at or above VO2 Max, I consume shots of maple syrup or a more natural version of Swedish Fish for fast glucose delivery!
What are some of your favorite pre and during workout foods and drinks?