Fueling Up Before the Big Race

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Fueling for Your Workout

Christie Clinic is back with tips on fueling up before the big race!

What you eat before you exercise has a big impact on your energy level during exercise; so does what you eat during extensive exercise. Runners and others who exercise for more than one hour, and kids who have practice after school, need to consider fueling and hydration during exercise. 

Normal healthy diet before exercise, including carbs should be appropriate fuel for exercise lasting less than one hour. You will have increased energy during exercise and more effective workouts when you are properly fueled. 

It is important for everyone, no matter the level of exercise, to remain well-hydrated throughout the day; that is just a good health habit. It’s important to start out well-hydrated before exercise. 
For exercise less than an hour, you do not need to fuel during the workout; just have a pre-exercise snack, and drink water during exercise if you are thirsty. 

I find that many people who are working out less than an hour are drinking sports drinks, because they seem to be a healthy choice, or they just don’t want to drink plain water. This is absolutely not necessary, and if you’re trying to lose weight it only adds extra calories you don’t need. Sports drinks do have their place, but not in this case, and there is no benefit to just drinking sports drinks as part of your normal diet. 

Appropriate uses for sports drinks: when you are exercising for more than an hour, sports drinks are a good way to replace electrolytes and carbs. Sports drinks are also absorbed more quickly than plain water.  If you are running or doing other exercise for more than an hour, try to balance sweat losses and energy burned with enough fluids and carbs to keep your energy high and blood sugar at normal levels. I’ll talk on April 17th about carb loading, and April 24th about fueling and hydration during the marathon, specifically. 

With high intensity exercise like running for more than an hour, you’ll probably do best with sports drinks, or gels and sports beans plus water.  With lower intensity exercise greater than an hour, you can consume normal foods and beverages, and water or sports drinks. 

It is important to become accustomed to fueling during exercise, and find out what you tolerate, before you participate in an event, so you can fuel appropriately during the event without unexpected nausea or other digestive issues.

For high intensity exercise greater than an hour, again, you probably want to use sports drinks, or gels and sports beans plus water. You can include some easily digested carbohydrate foods, if you like and you tolerate them. Again, try this out during training, before an event, to be sure you use things you will tolerate without digestive upset. You’ll want to have at least 60-90 g carb/hour (240-360 calories). You can read product labels to see how many carbs they contain. 

With the lower intensity exercise lasting more than an hour, you can consume normal foods and beverages, and water or sports drinks. Examples include pretzels, fruit juice, dried fruit, melon, and trail mix. You want to have at least 30 g carb/hour (about 120 calories). 

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