Are certain nutrients depleted with strenuous exercise?
David Kiefer, MD
Family Medicine, WebMD Medical Expert
University of Arizona, Tucson
Exercise uses fuel. The body's fuel is glucose, which come from carbohydrates. That's the reason long-distance runners typically carbo-load before an event. And after a long run, they usually need to refuel by consuming high-carb foods, such as bagels, bananas, or fruit juice.
Strenuous exercise depletes fluids, as well, especially in hot weather. As for single nutrients, stores of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and some B vitamins may also be reduced after strenuous exercise. Premenopausal female athletes may run a risk of iron deficiency. Some sports medicine experts think that antioxidants may help athletes recover after a strenuous workout, by neutralizing free radicals generated by exercise. That hasn't been proven, however. And no single antioxidant stands out as particularly important. Although vitamin/mineral formulas are marketed to athletes, all of the nutrients that help power athletic performance can be found in a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.