In part 2 of our recovery nutrition series, we asked the dietitians at sportsRDpro – What is nutrient timing?

  • Nutrient timing refers to matching energy intake with energy expenditure.
  • Pre-workout meals help to prevent exercise induced hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), ward off hunger, provide carbohydrates to be stored as glycogen (fuel stored in muscles as carbohydrate), and allows the body to exercise more intensely.
    • A pre-workout meal, consumed 3-4 hours before,  should consist of foods higher in carbohydrates that are easy to digest and familiar to you. Fresh fruits and starchy foods with lower fiber and fat content, such as white rice,  breads, and pastas, are an optimal choice. Pair carbohydrate based foods with a source of lean protein such as grilled chicken or yogurt.
    • Pre-workout snacks consumed within an hour before starting your workout can help to provide your body with readily available carbohydrates to use for energy.  Foods should be mostly carbohydrate and easy to digest. Pre-workout snack carbohydrate recommendation: 1g/kg of bodyweight.  Simple carbohydrates found in commercial products such as energy chews, beans and gels are a great option as a pre-workout snack.
  • The goals of food timing during and after exercise are to enhance tissue repair, help with muscle building, and to lower perceived exertion during exercise.
    • If exercising for greater than 60 minutes, consuming 30-60g of carbohydrates (Gatorade/Powerade) throughout the workout will help sustain energy.  Post workout meal or snack incorporating both carbohydrates and protein should be consumed within 1 hour after completing your workout.
    • Because muscle protein synthesis remains elevated for at least 24 hours after intense exercise, it is important to continue to regularly (every 3-4 hours) consume protein with all meals/snacks throughout the day.

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