4 Nutrition Tips for Hot Workouts

Tell me if this has ever happened to you. You go on a midday run or to a hot yoga class and halfway through you almost feel like you have the flu. Your body is heavy, you feel faint or your stomach starts to cramp and turn on itself. Some people chalk it up to heat sensitivity, but it could be their nutrition that's to blame.

While you were growing up, someone probably told you that you needed to wait an hour after eating before going in the pool. And this seemed logical, so you translated this antiquated notion to other areas of exercise. The truth is you should wait between two and three hours to exercise after eating a meal of substance, especially if it included foods high in protein and fat, which are more difficult to digest.

Anytime we eat, our body diverts blood from our muscles and brain to our stomach to digest the food. If we eat things that are difficult to break down such as nut butters, meat and slow greens, our stomach and intestines use even more blood and our muscles have much fewer resources available to them for athletic performance. If we ask our body to perform in a heated environment, we exacerbate the problem because now it's working hard to maintain homeostasis (a stable body temperature); it's trying to digest all of the food we just ate, all while running six miles.  

So what should you do? Eat lightly, if at all, prior to exercise.  

Often times we think our bodies need more fuel than they do and we end up over-feeding it. Here are four nutrition tips to get you through your hot run, ride, spin or yoga class without collapsing.

Tip #1- Hot Water With Lemon

If you're working out early to mid-morning, this is the best thing for you. It may sound unbelievable that your body would be able to perform on such seemingly scant nourishment, but I turn your attention to the animal kingdom. The vast majority of mammals do not wake up and immediately eat. Instead, they have to "work for their breakfast" and this work usually includes some form of physical exertion.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you go on a 10 mile run at 10 a.m. with only a cup of hot water and lemon in your stomach. But if you typically go on a four to six mile run before work, this is probably all you need.

Tip #2- Juice

I'm not talking about orange juice that comes from a cardboard can in the freezer section, but about freshly squeezed vegetable juice poured from your Turbo Jet Propelled juicer. If you can't get by on just hot water with lemon, fresh vegetable juice is the best alternative. It's packed with nutrients to carry you through your workout. It's refreshing and hydrating in hot weather, and it digests very quickly. Most people can drink up to 16 oz. of juice 30 minutes before strenuous and/or heated exercise without side effects.

The key to make vegetable juice taste good is to add a sweet piece of fruit to your concoction. If you're drinking kale, parsley and ginger, make sure to add at least half an apple (Note: use a sweet varietal like Gala or Fuji).

If you juice carrots, beets and lemon, throw in a pear. Carrots, beets and kale can make for thick juice. so if you prefer a lighter consistency, add a section of cucumber and a celery stalk. These two vegetables are made largely of water and have detoxification qualities that only enhance the nutrients in your glass.

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