PRE-WORKOUT. For pre-workout, this is probably the least focused area for me. Biggest thing for me is I try to make sure my athletes are appropriately hydrated and have had eaten a well balanced meal about 1-2 hours before workout. The closer you get to race time or workout time with your meal your body will use that energy source you just ingested rather then a fuel source like fat which for longer distance workouts should be the primary source of energy. You are teaching your body to burn carbs during these workouts rather then fats. Your body will learn to do this for future exercises so in turn you will not learn to spare you carbohydrate sources for high intensity exercises (end of races). I also don’t focus on this pre-workout meal because everyone has different reactions to the food they eat while exercising. Biggest thing I preach is the balanced aspect. Carbs, Fats, and Protein from a variety of sources.
DURING WORKOUT. During workout I would split into two zones 45 min to 2 hours and 2 hours+. For the 45 mins to an hour water would be a sufficient intake for the workout. There is really no need for in taking any carbs or electrolytes from a sports drink for a workout of this duration. You’ll find that maintaining your homeostasis water level in your body will make the workout a lot easier, with your heart rate remaining more stable and your rating of perceived exertion not elevating. It’s recommend you take in about 8oz of water every 20-30 minutes during your workout. For workouts longer than 2 hours you begin to need to have a fuel source that will replace the glucose that you tend to burn a lot of during those longer workouts. We have used an Infinit Nutrition supplements as a refueling source for our team in the past. They offer the ability to personalize your own formula for your own sweat rate and work needs, which is a nice feature.
POST-WORKOUT. Post-workout is probably the biggest area I focus on and in research it has been shown to have the largest effect on recovery and improvement in performance. If you’re able to eat or drink something with a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, you maximize your body’s ability to have an insulin response which helps aid in carbohydrate intake into your muscles. That magic period is shown to be within 30 minutes post workout, with diminishing returns the further you get from that end time. Chocolate Milk has been the big thing in recovery from workouts. Both liquids and solid foods are appropriator options for this effect. Most nutritional bars like Clif Bars and Powerbars have this ratio of carbs to protein. It should also be noted that this immediate post-workout supplement should be followed by a larger balanced meal.
I don’t think there is really real secret to workout nutrition but I do feel like choosing healthy and fresh food options do benefit an athlete. Like I said before, the biggest thing I preach is having a balanced diet. If you do this you should be getting the right stuff in your system.
– by Andy Keller, CXC Team Head Coach