Winter Nutrition: How to Stay on Track

Also, eat a small snack. "If your system takes a long time to digest or you don't like the feeling of food in your stomach when you exercise, stick with a liquid like apple juice or a small smoothie made with unsweetened frozen fruit and skim or soy milk. But consume no more than 300 calories for that pre-workout snack / small meal," she advises.

Contrary to what some people believe, exercising on an empty stomach will NOT allow you to burn more calories during the workout. Schwabenbauer says women tend to be the worst offenders and too frequently fast before heading to the gym. "If the carbohydrates aren't readily available, your body is forced to break down muscle mass and convert it into blood sugar. So, don't short yourself and go into workouts on an empty tank."

3. Consume a sports drink if your workout is going to over an hour. Don't even think about missing this if you are going over two hours.  During the winter months, the biggest challenge is taking in fluids at the right time. "People typically walk around drinking a sports drink during the day, in place of water. They end up getting extra calories they don't need at the wrong time," Schwabenbauer says.

Taken properly, sport drinks are good options for moderate to high intensity activity lasting longer than 60 minutes. Replacing carbohydrates and electrolytes like sodium and potassium keep your energy up to maximize your ability to hit your workout goals.

4. Get a good snack within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. "It's all about timing and composition of your food," she said. Shoot for a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein or around 15 to 25 grams of protein and 45 to 75 grams of carbohydrates. Post-exercise, you need liquids for re-hydration, sugar to replenish your glycogen stores, and antioxidants and electrolytes to help muscles recover.

5. Stay hydrated throughout the day. Because cold weather blunts the thirst mechanism, you must consciously remember to consume water. But for some of us, drinking water gets dull. Schwabenbauer advises: "Add a low calorie sweetener if necessary to encourage yourself to drink water. If you are dehydrated, you will automatically have a higher heart rate and a higher level of perceived exertion or effort."

Better hydration after a workout clears waste products more effectively. Most importantly, if you drink enough during the day, you won't mistake hunger for thirst and end up with extra winter pounds to shed in the spring.

Watch for Schwabenbauer on her upcoming episode of "Made" in early January on MTV and cheer for her at the finish line in 2012 as she makes her debut as a professional triathlete. Schwabenbauer also runs her own endurance training and nutrition consulting business, Fuel Your Passion.

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