How to Fuel During and After a Workout

We must keep our bodies hydrated with the right amount of fluids, and we need to consume it in the right amounts to keep us healthy and safe during intense activity. There are certain drinks, snacks, and high calorie foods that you can ingest. If you perspire a lot or feel confused about how to fuel your exercise, here are some important facts to help you resupply the nutrients you need.

It is especially important to replenish essential nutrients when you sweat profusely or when running in high temperatures. Sometimes you need solid food that is easy to digest. These foods can increase low sugar levels, aid in muscle cramping, and help resupply fat storage that has been depleted. Here are three types of foods and drinks that you can have during and after an intense workout.

More: How to Refuel After a Hard Workout

Electrolyte Drinks

I am not going to name electrolyte drinks because there are a ton of them. However, you should not use energy drinks, as they are not the same. We know the popular electrolyte drinks that the professional sports players use and those are the types of drinks we want. They should be used under intense workouts, not when eating dinner.

These drinks are meant for exercise and replenishing what you have lost. Do not use popular energy drinks because we are more concerned about hydration, not getting amped up. Instead, you can use energy drinks prior to exercise to get you into your rhythm and getting excited for the activity.  

More: 15 Hydration Facts for Athletes

Water is great, but sometimes you need extra elements, like salt and potassium (as an alternative, try 100% pure coconut water for hydration). Furthermore, only drink electrolyte drinks when your activity level and perspiration are intense. Otherwise you are putting extra sugary calories into your body that you probably don't need. Only drink these while exercising.

Recovery Drinks

Post-recovery beverages or powder mixes are great because they supply a 4:1 ratio. This means that based on the serving size, you are getting four carbohydrates and one protein. The reason they have this ratio is because when you exercise, your body is using all the different energy systems that are fueled by carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

More: 4 Delicious Recovery Smoothies

The protein component helps the muscle recover from the intense demand you just placed on it, and the carbohydrate replenishes important elements that you lost through sweating. The only component that it does not replace is fat. These drinks are great, but sometimes the person needs some fat in their system, especially if the exercise lasts over two hours (marathon, long hikes, ultra-endurance).

Solid Food Snacks

Fat is an essential nutrient that should not be avoided. If you are exercising for long durations you will need to refuel with some kind of fat. Some individuals with a highly efficient system will need to refuel with food during exercise, but most of us will be craving these foods at the end.

More: 3 Reasons to Eat More Fat

Some of the popular food items are a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, banana with peanut butter, protein bars, health bars, granola, trail mix, candy bars and string cheese. In reality, when you are doing intense workouts, eating a healthy small snack just doesn't pack enough fat. It's okay to eat a peanut/caramel candy bar if you are craving it during or after a long 26.2 mile run. You probably need it.

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