Health & Food

Fueling for Exercise; Q & A

Here are the Questions and Answers from yesterday’s post!

Keep in mind, if you are working out for 60 minutes or less, the recommendation is to simply make sure you don’t go into a workout hungry, and that you start your workout properly hydrated. After your workout, it’s best to fuel with some carbs and protein, but it’s not truly necessary if you are only a recreational athlete. The following recommendations can be used, but are mainly important for those working out/training longer than 60 minutes (most important for those working out 90-180 minutes), everyday. Also keep in mind that more specific recommendations may be necessary if you have specific goals and dietary needs.

Question #1

Julie; I’d love to hear the negative effects of not properly fueling before and after your workout.


The negative effects of not properly fueling before a workout will be different for each person. Why? It really depends on the type of workout you are doing, and during what time of the day. Julie, I know you tend to workout in the morning (EARLY!) and I notice you don’t usually eat anything beforehand. Well, keep in mind that during sleep you are losing about 80% of the glycogen you have stored in your liver. Glycogen is your body’s main source of energy during a high intensity, and medium intensity workout. After you start to exercise, right away your muscles will start using the glucose that is released from the continued breakdown of your remaining glycogen. If you plan to workout for about an hour, and you have not eaten anything, you run the risk of depleting your glycogen, and thus your body will not have the proper energy to keep you working out to your highest potential! I’ve heard people say to me, “but Gina, when my body doesn’t have glucose to use, won’t it burn my fat?!” Well, yes, it will, but you will also get a much less effective workout because your body uses much more energy for you to burn that fat. So if you’re going for heart health, AND weight management, eat a small snack 30 minutes before your morning workout, just to get that blood sugar (glucose) up!

If you are totally against that idea, make sure to eat a very large dinner the night before, and maybe even a pre-bedtime snack, to make sure you have maximum glycogen for your body to use throughout the night, and then maybe you’ll have enough left the next morning for an effective workout. Another option would be to bring a Gatorade (G2 has less calories) with you to drink while you workout. This will provide the fuel you need to have a great workout!
After a workout there aren’t really any negative side-effects of not eating, especially if you are just working out recreationally, but it is suggested that you consume some carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen a bit. Also some protein is good for muscle repair. Again, this depends on how hard you workout, and how soon your next workout session is. Aim for a snack with a ratio of 75% carbohydrates and 25% lean protein.

Question #2

Whitney; I would like to about what kinds of food (protein, carbs, fats) to eat before/after exercising.


Before: As I said in my post form yesterday, fat and fiber are both necessary in the diet, but are meal components that you don’t want to eat right before a workout (I’d say no sooner than 1-2 hours before). So when you have plenty of time (3-4 hours) before your workout, focus on whole grains and healthy fats (vegetable oils, nuts, seeds). If you just have an hour or two and you want to eat something to fuel your workout, it’s probably best to stay away from too much fiber and fat. Some whole grain crackers, a small piece of fruit, a glass of milk, or a banana are good choices. Stick to around 100-150 calories.

After: This depends on your workout. Check out my post-workout meal/snack post here. If you are doing endurance training, make sure to get 10-20 grams of a high quality protein within an hour (eggs, milk, whey). If you are doing something that is more focused on endurance, replenish your glycogen stores with 40-60 grams of carbohydrate within an hour (baked potato, small plate of pasta, Gatorade). The need to replenish your glycogen is most important for athletes training for marathons or other big events. Endurance training also fatigues the muscle, so I still think about 10 grams of protein is also a good idea, although not really necessary if you aren’t training for a big event or really trying to build muscle. More specifically, branched chain amino acids (BCAA) found in whey, milk, and eggs, in amounts up to 12 grams, have been shown to be beneficial for muscles (less breakdown, more building, less soreness).

Great food: Quinoa! It has a perfect combination of carbohydrates and protein. Did I mention it’s a complete protein?nutrition facts

Photo source

And of course, re-hydrate! If you weigh yourself before a workout, and then after a workout, replace 16-14 ounces of fluid per pound lost (any weight loss is from sweat, not fat).Exercise 1Question #3

Karen @ Fitness is a Journey Not a Destination; I would love to hear your thoughts on post-workout meals as well. I’ve heard that you should consume protein within an hour of a strength training workout. What about cardio, yoga or pilates?

Diana : Wondering if I should be squeezing in a little protein within an hour of working out, though I’m no athlete or anything.

So, is it only muscle builders who benefit form protein after a workout?Exercise 2Answer

These are great questions, and there isn’t really much information available about fueling after a pilates or yoga workout, but having done both before, I would consider them like a strength training exercise. Protein is good, in amounts from 10-20 grams, after any workout, in my opinion. That being said, if you forget to consume protein after one of these workouts, it’s not going to harm you. But by consuming protein right after these workouts you are simply setting your muscles up for good repair and damage prevention, by feeding them with fuel in the form of amino acids (preferably Brabched Chain Amino Acids).

Question #4

Mari: Do you think a small box of raisins is okay (before my morning workout)? 45 Calories


I would suggest a morning snack of 100-150 calories. Even if you’re trying to cut weight, you’re workout will be much more efficient and effective when you have glucose for energy, thus you will burn more calories! 100 calories before your workout will be beneficial, just subtract 100 calories from your breakfast afterwards.

The goal is to NOT overcompensate AFTER your workout, by “rewarding” yourself with sweets. Check out this blog post about why working out sometimes doesn’t mean weight loss.

Overall Bottom Line For All Questions Above
For any workout you don’t want to be overly full, or have an empty stomach. You must work at figuring out a good eating pattern that works best for you. As for post-workout routines, supplying protein and carbohydrates is important, but mostly for those who are training for a big event, working out twice a day, or who have specific workout goals (muscle gain, increased glycogen storage capacity, maybe even weight loss). Most of you are probably fine with just a light snack that includes some carbohydrates and some protein, sometime after your workout.

A nice smoothie with protein and carbohydrates would be a good idea.

Or a lower fat/lower fiber snack bar (fat and fiber will impede the absorption of the carbohydrate, so make it a lower fat/fiber snack if you plan on working out hard the same day or early the following day. A little fat and fiber is ok).Exercise 3Or some yogurt and berries (not too many berries though, lots of fiber in those babies. Try 1/4 cup).Exercise 4Question # 5

Faith, Food, and Fitness asked; what do you usually eat before a run? im curious! and how much protein do you consume in one day?

I don’t run, I use the elliptical, speed walk on the treadmill, or do pilates or yoga. Running hurts my ankles, and gives me plantar warts of the bottom of my feet (sorry, gross). But before I do my 35 minute cardio routine, I eat a bowl of oats and a scoop of peanut butter and pumpkin (or frozen berries), and a cup of half regular/half decaf coffee. I workout about 30-45 minutes after my breakfast. If I was running, I would eat half this amount (below is about 300 calories). Running entails for bouncing up and down, so my stomach wouldn’t handle this much food.almond butterHow much protein do I consume each day? A RANDOM guess would be about 60-80 grams. This is about 1.3-1.7 grams/kg body weight (the recommendation for sedentary person is .8 g/kg body weight, and I would never suggest going over 2 g/kg body weight)

My Protein Sources

~3-4 T peanut butter or almond butter
~4-5 ounces lean protein (sometimes fatty steak and burgers!)
~ 1-2 ounces cheese
~2-3 cups yogurt or milk or kefir
~4-5 ounces whole grain

Coming Up Tomorrow

Stay tuned for my Biggest Loser review (did you watch last night?!) and another new dinner!
Have a great Hump Day everyone.

About author


Hi, my name is Rebecca Houston and I am a writer. I write about health, healthy food and daily meal plan for various websites.
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