Fueling Your Workouts: 5 Basic Exercise Nutrition Tips

Sep 12, 2013

Written by: Mat Longo, Personal Trainer, O2 Fitness Brennan

As you all continue to work hard towards achieving your fitness goals, I just wanted to touch on a few basic nutrition principles to help you get there based on the questions I hear most frequently!

5 Basic Exercise Nutrition Tips

1. Eat before you exercise. 

Your body is like a car. You wouldn’t expect to make a drive across country with no gas in the tank, and you shouldn’t expect to make it through a tough workout with no fuel in your body.  It has become all too common to hear complaints of nausea or feeling lightheaded midway through a workout.  If you have to cut your workouts short or modify the intensity and break time, you will be deterring your progress.  Talk to your trainer and dietician about some sensible pre-workout food options and the length of time beforehand you should consume them.

2. Intra-workout replenishment. 

Depending on the length and intensity of your training session, you may need to replace some of your carbs/electrolytes during the workout to avoid fatiguing too early.  Allowing your hydration levels to drop a mere 1-2% can cause a drastic change in your performance and energy level.  Those of you who will be taking part in our outdoor boot camp programs might want to keep this in mind on those hot, muggy days, and bring a Gatorade.  Water is good to hydrate leading up to exercise, but does not have the electrolytes necessary to restore hydration levels during a workout.

3. Post-workout protein consumption. 

I think nowadays just about everyone knows that protein consumption throughout the day, especially post-workout, is essential.  However, a lot of people are failing to realize how important the timing of your post-workout protein consumption is.  You have only fifteen minutes post-workout to take advantage of your maximal protein absorption rate.  Each minute after fifteen that passes, less and less of your protein gets absorbed and more gets stored as excess.  Therefore, if you finish working out, go shower, change, then drive straight home, and immediately get your protein in, you have wasted too much time, wasted your protein, and are now less effectively repairing and building your muscle.  Unless you live 2 minutes from the gym and shower at home, bring your source of protein with you so you don’t have to worry about that 15-minute window and maximize the results you are working so hard for.

4. Post-workout carbohydrate consumption. 

Carbohydrates are another essential fuel source for exercise.  When consumed at the correct times and amounts, carbs store in the body as muscle glycogen, which is your primary fuel source for your weight training sessions.  Just like you have a post-workout time frame to consume your protein, you have a time frame for your carbohydrate consumption.  You have two hours after your workouts to take in the bulk of your carbs and store them as muscle glycogen.  So, for those of you who are trying to lose weight, but have a trainer telling you that some carb consumption is essential for building lean muscle mass, stack your carbs for the day around your workout.

5. Additional supplementation. 

Most people are always looking for a faster way to get the results they want.  Sometimes, people can be led to believe that there are “miracle” supplements, such as fat burners or natural herbs, that will simply shed all their unwanted pounds away.  Save yourself the money and wasted time waiting to see results, and don’t buy into the hype.  Outside of a multivitamin and maybe a post-workout protein shake, a healthy, clean diet and a proper exercise program are all you need, no matter what your goals may be. All you have to do is put the effort in, maintain consistency and patience, and watch your body change.

If you have any additional questions, please see a trainer at your O2 Fitness location.  After all, we're here to help!

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