The goal for athletes in the pre-exercise period is to make certain that blood sugar is maintained, that hydration state. To do this, the focus should be on starchy, low-fiber carbohydrate foods and fluids for the last meal before exercise, followed by a sports beverage sipping protocol that maintains blood glucose and volume.
Before Exercise A high-carbohydrate snack/meal that is completed approximately 90 minutes before physical activity has been shown to improve endurance performance. After this pre-exercise meal, athletes should consume carbohydrate right up to the beginning of the training session or competition to avoid low blood glucose. Two strategies can be followed:
- Ingest a carbohydrate-containing sports beverage using a sipping strategy, where approximately 2 to 4 ounces (60 to 120 ml) of beverage is consumed every 10 to 15 minutes.
- Snack on low-fiber, starchy foods (such as saltine crackers) every 15 minutes, washed down with ample quantities of water.
During exercise carbohydrate is best obtained through a 6 to 7 percent carbohydrate solution (this means sport drinks not fruit juice during this time), with 4 to 8 ounces (120 to 240 ml) taken every 10 to 20 minutes (the amount to consume depends on sweat rate).
Perhaps the most common error during physical activity is to delay drinking fluids until the sensation of thirst manifests itself. Timed sipping/drinking protocol may prevent this performance detractor.
After Exercise Glycogen and fluids are usually, to a degree, depleted after exercise, and protein requirements are also higher to aid in muscle recovery. One of the main post-exercise goals is to replenish glycogen to prepare the athlete for the next bout of exercise. Therefore, athletes should consume carbohydrate as soon as physical activity ends. Ideally, the carbohydrate consumed for the first 2 hours after exercise should be high glycemic, followed by medium-glycemic carbohydrate for another 2 hours and finally medium-to high-glycemic carbohydrate for the remainder of the day. (Glycemic index foods of ?70 are considered high; 56 to 69 is considered medium; and ?55 is considered low.)
Protein is composed of amino acids, the same building blocks of human muscle. In a post-workout nutrition window, consuming 25 to 40 g of lean protein or whey protein powder, with twice that amount of simple carbohydrates, to ensure rapid delivery to the muscles will provide a better return on your investment in weight training. That equates to 100kcal to 160kcal of quality protein and 200 to 400 kcal from carbohydrate (50 to 100 grams) immediately after physical activity.
Even a subtle delay in food consumption after activity may negatively affect the immune system as well as leave the body in catabolic state long enough to negatively affect the workout.
Chocolate Milk is an Effective Recovery Beverage
- Satisfies – fluid and sodium for rehydration, sugar for glycogen replenishment, and protein for reducing post-exercise muscle soreness.
- Reduces exercise-associated muscle damage and improve post-exercise recovery