What to Eat Before, During and After Exercise
An interview with sports dietitian Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, CSSD.
What are gels and what role do they play in fitness performance?
Gels are good for endurance athletes but are not needed by the recreational
athlete. Gels are concentrated forms of carbohydrate and can help long-distance
cyclists and runners get some quick fuel during exercise. Since they are so
concentrated, they should be washed down with water to avoid stomach upset.
How do you know if you're getting the right amount of calories and nutrients?
To get an accurate assessment of your calorie and nutrient needs, see a
registered dietitian or a certified specialist in sports dietetics. For a
quick, but less accurate assessment, try www.mypyramid.org to track your energy
needs and your exercise [or use WebMD's Food and Fitness
Are there any benefits to exercising in the morning vs. at night?
The best advice is to just do it. There are no benefits to either time; it's
simply a matter of personal choice. Some people prefer morning exercise
and the satisfaction that it is done without worrying that it will be
squeezed out by their daily routine. Others prefer to exercise later in the
day, when muscles are warmed up, and it helps revive them for the evening. The
only caution is not to exercise close to bedtime, as the increase in body
temperature and metabolism may interfere with
Is carbo loading a useful strategy for long-distance athletes?
Carbo loading, or stocking up on carbohydrates before a sporting event, has
gone out of favor with most athletes. Eating adequate carbohydrates
during training provides muscles with all the glycogen (the storage form of
carbohydrate) that they need.
Athletes who exercise for longer than two hours usually consume some form of
carbohydrate during exercise (sports drinks, carbohydrate gels, or energy bars)
to provide additional fuel. Carbohydrate loading (also called "muscle glycogen
supercompensation") should only be considered for those performing very hard,
continuous exercise that lasts for 90 minutes or more, and should be done under
the supervision of a sports dietitian.
What are good, healthy snacks for kids during sport activities or practice?
When it is your turn to bring the snacks, keep it simple and healthy. Let’s
face it; young kids don’t burn a lot of calories in a recreational weekly
soccer game, so provide healthy snacks in small
quantities. Orange or apple slices; peanut butter sandwiches cut into quarters;
string cheese and whole-grain crackers; and trail mix made with whole-grain
cereal, nuts, and dried fruit; along with fruit juice, are good choices.
Can you lose weight without having to exercise?
Yes, you can, but the best strategy is a combination of cutting calories and
exercising. Exercise has other benefits that can help with weight loss.
It improves mood and self-esteem, as well as reduces risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Exercise burns fewer calories than you might think. Walking 1 mile burns about 100
calories and 1 pound of body fat is a storage depot for 3,500 calories. You’d
have to walk 35 miles to lose 1 pound of fat.