Centsable Health: Fueling your body during exercise - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Centsable Health: Fueling your body during exercise


Are you one of the many planning to peddle your way across the Hawkeye State in RAGBRAI? Experts say you need to be training now if you plan to take part in the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

Besides the physical workout, you need to be training with the proper food. Fareway Foods Registered Dietitian Whitney Packebush offered this advice in our latest Centsable Health segment.

If you're logging countless miles and hours endurance training, your body can't perform on sub-par nutrition. Endurance athletes have unique nutritional needs, and the foods they eat should meet three main goals:

  1. Provide calories needed for exercise
  2. Restore glycogen - the storage form of glucose that allows you to exercise tomorrow, too
  3. Repair lean body mass to increase muscle size and strength

Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel for endurance athletes, especially in the form of glycogen; therefore, it's important to consume a carbohydrate-rich diet, about 60-70% of total calories.  To figure out your needs: Weight in pounds x 3.2 = grams of carbohydrates per day

Protein isn't easily utilized for energy, but it's vital for muscle growth and repair. It also helps keep hunger pangs at bay during exercise. Aim for 12 - 15% of total calories from protein.  To figure your needs: Weight in pounds x 0.6 = grams of protein per day

Fat is vital for endurance athletes for three reasons: provide essential fatty acids, aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, K) and meet energy needs. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties needed for recovering muscles. Fat should comprise about 30% of total calories, but the type of fat may be more important than how much. Look for unsaturated fatty acids like oils, nuts, fish and avocados.

Glycemic Index: measure of how quickly blood sugar levels rise after eating a certain food. High glycemic foods cause blood sugars to rise very quickly, whereas low glycemic foods cause blood sugar levels to rise more slowly.


Peak performance starts before you even exercise. Pre-exercise meals should: Prevent hunger before or during exercise & maintain steady energy throughout exercise.

Meals three to four hours before exercise need to supply your body with energy from carbohydrates and also protein, which helps deliver slow and steady energy to the muscles.

Timing: 3 to 4 hours before exercise


  • Low glycemic index
  • Low fat
  • Low fiber
  • Lean protein

Not recommended:

  • New foods that are not well tolerated

Sample Menu:

  • 1 egg burrito made with 1 egg + 2 egg whites, 1 ounce cheddar cheese, diced peppers and onions
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup water

Approximate nutrition information: 619 calories; 17 g fat; 7 g saturated fat; 91 g carbohydrate; 6.2 g fiber.

If there is an hour or less before you hop on a bike, solid foods may not work for you. If that's the case, aim for beverages that provide carbohydrates. If you need something a little more substantial to keep you full, fruits work wonders.

Timing: 30 minutes to 1 hour


  • High carbohydrate
  • Moderate protein
  • Low fat
  • Low fiber

Not Recommended

  • High fat
  • High fiber
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Sugary beverages
  • Alcohol.

Sample Menu:

  • Choose 1 - 1 small orange, peach, pear, or banana 1 cup watermelon 1 cup cantaloupe
  • Gatorade Prime™ Energy chews
  • Nature Valley granola bar

During Exercise

If you're exercising for more than 45 minutes continuously (ahem, RAGBRAI riders), you need to maintain energy and fluid balance. Say "hello" to sports drinks. Drink 7 to 10 ounces every 15 minutes for best results.

The ideal fluid replacer during exercise should have:

  • 14-19 grams of carbohydrate per 8 ounces
  • 50-170 mg sodium per 8 ounces
  • 30-50 mg potassium per 8 ounces
  • No caffeine or carbonation

Timing: Varies


  • High carbohydrates

Not recommended:

  • High fiber
  • High protein
  • High fat
  • Drinks with more than 8% carbohydrates
  • Alcohol

Sample Menu:

Gatorade™ G series or G2.  G2 is lower calorie hydration for lower intensity workouts with the same electrolytes as original Gatorade™.

Hydrate with 5 to 10 ounces of water or sports drink:

  • Less than 19 g carbohydrate per 8 ounces
  • 30-50 mg potassium per 8 ounces
  • 50 - 170 mg sodium per 8 ounces


Exercise recovery has two main goals: restore glycogen and restore/build lean body mass (a.k.a. muscle).

Timing: Eat a snack within 30 minutes


  • 4:1 carbohydrate:protein
  • 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during exercise

Not recommended:

  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • High fat
  • Alcohol

Sample menu:

  • Muscle Milk
  • Chocolate milk
  • Gatorade Protein Recovery Shake

If you want more on this Centsable Health topic and the recipes click here or check out http://www.fareway.com. 

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