by Matt Basso | June 2011

Fuel up during your workout

Proper nutritional intake can make the difference between a great workout and a weak one. You should be focused all day on proper eating habits but most people don't realize that you can fuel your body during your workout to maximize output. In fact I would say that for myself I'm most focused on post exercise nutrition and what to consume during my workouts. My experience has shown me that the periods of time  (hours, mins,...before, during, after) around workouts are the most critical for getting results.

Many times people are in such a rush to get the workout done that they miss important steps that should lead up to successful workouts. If you are someone who spends 60-90mins training at a time you NEED to think about proper fueling for your sessions. If you are someone who spends 30-45mins, you can worry less if you eat well and hydrate during the day...But you probably don't so you NEED to think too. The point of this intake process is to reduce fatigue, maintain brain function (concentration), and allow you to get your intensity level up.

So how do you do this?

A rule I like to follow:

Balance your water and energy output with enough fluid to match your sweat losses and enough carbohydrates to provide energy and maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Sounds simple enough...Maybe you've even heard it before. It's the execution of this that tends to allude most people.

Usually I see that a person is either drinking water OR a sports drink...You need a combo of both.

You can get really technical and weigh yourself before and after workouts to measure the loss of fluids (sweat) and determine your intake needs that way, but since you aren't going to do that lets come up with a general rule.

If you are an average size human exercising (especially endurance) for 60-90mins drinking about a liter of a sports drink or extra water and an energy bar will significantly increase your stamina

Note: Your body doesn't care what form of carb you ingest. It can be in a liquid form or a solid food, however YOUR STOMACH WILL CARE...Just like anything else you need to practice eating different foods and drinking different liquids to see which your body can handle during exercise. Don't try and be a hero by running on the treadmill and hoping off to scarf down a feast just yet...You'll probably yack and ruin your entire workout. Take it slow and experiment under tolerable conditions.

As a general rule I don't like sports drinks because they are packed with sugar, however when you are doing moderate to hard endurance type of workouts, carbohydrates stored in your body will supply about 50% of the energy output. Basically the sugar in these energy drinks keep you at a normal blood sugar level while exercising, and therefore fuel up your muscles.

Note: Taking in too much sugar will slow down the rate at which water will be readily available to replace sweat loss. So don't go overboard with the consumption of sports drinks/energy drinks or anything with a lot of sugar

If you are an average size human and you are participating in exercise that lasts for 30-40mins lean more toward water.

I suggest a 16oz. bottle of water with just a bit of juice in this scenario. If your food and liquid intake throughout the day was on point, then you shouldn't need to worry about getting through 30-40mins...However, if you are bad at eating and hydrating during the day you may require more carbs to get you through an intense workout.

Water is so important because:

In blood it transports glucose, oxygen, and fats to working muscles and carries away metabolic by-products such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
In urine eliminates metabolic waste.
In sweat dissipates heat through the skin. It actually absorbs heat from your muscles and becomes sweat to regulate body temp.
It lubricates joints and cushions organs and tissues

Think about these things the next time you skip that glass of water!

Increasing your focus on these little details can help you create intensity in your workouts that will lead to a healthier better looking body.


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