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Fuel your body right to energize your workout

By Nicci Micco, April 16, 2009 - 4:36am

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Fuel your body right to energize your workout

With the Boston marathon right around the corner on April 20, I’m even more inspired to stay on track with my training for the half-marathon I’m running in May. I’m organizing my time to help me fit in my mileage during the week and carving out a couple of hours on Saturday mornings for long runs. I’m also being extra careful about what I eat. I know that choosing the right foods to fuel my body will help me run my best and feel good doing it. Following these four eating tips helps energize my runs. Try them to power your workouts too!

Get the recipe: Egg & Salmon Sandwich

Eat plenty of healthy carbohydrates. If you’re active, and particularly if you’re training for a race or a ride, you need carbohydrates. (This is no time to give Atkins a try!) Carbs break down easily and quickly raise your blood sugar, which fuels your muscles. Eating carbs also helps to replenish glycogen, the form of carbohydrate that your body stores and, during long runs or other workouts, breaks down into glucose. Get your fill by basing your diet on whole grains, such as these delicious oat recipes, barley and brown rice, and plenty of fruits and veggies.

Have a breakfast of champions. Many sports nutritionists recommend that active people eat a carb-rich breakfast providing about 500 calories—a full two hours before a workout. If you like to exercise first thing in the morning and don’t want to rise before the sun, go for a smaller pre-workout snack (around 150 calories), such as a piece of toast with a little peanut butter or a Peanut Energy Bar.

Include protein in your post-workout snack or meal. Protein is critical for recovery after intense exercise. It helps to repair muscles that get “torn up” during high-intensity exercise. After your workout, try low-fat yogurt with fruit and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts, an Egg & Salmon Sandwich or, if it’s close to lunch or dinner time, a salad topped with grilled chicken or lean beef.

Sip smart. You may have heard that drinking coffee can give your workouts a boost, but the latest science doesn’t support this idea. Still, if having coffee seems to energize you, and your stomach can tolerate it, go ahead and have a cup an hour or so before your workout. But more important, be sure to drink plenty of water and other fluids, such as seltzer, throughout the day. Even mild dehydration makes you feel tired and sluggish—just the opposite of how you want to feel on a 10-mile run!

TAGS: Nicci Micco, Diet Blog

Nicci Micco
Nicci Micco is co-author of EatingWell 500-Calorie Dinners. She has a master's degree in nutrition and food sciences, with a focus in weight management.

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