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Healthy Fuel for Your Workout

by Brittany Eidsness, RHN


Healthy fuel for your workout.

“How do you build up your bank account? By putting something in it every day. Your health account is no different. What I do today, I am wearing tomorrow. If I put inferior foods in my body today, I’m going to be inferior tomorrow, it’s that simple.” – Jack Lalanne

Most of us can relate to the metaphor above of health as a bank account or perhaps it helps to think of your body as high performance car requiring high performance fuel.  While working with some athletes, however, I often hear that sometimes they have to ingest low quality but energizing food products to power through their high intensity or endurance workouts.

Here’s how you can operate at peak performance while not draining your health account.

 (Photo credit: Mike Baird [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Say goodbye to Chef Boyardee

Many nutritionists, and our mothers, used to advise loading up on quick digesting carbs, like pasta or bread, before a big physical endeavour, but athletes can get a similar pay-off by loading up on nutrient-rich complex carbs such as yams and squash. These foods contain more micronutrients — vitamins, minerals and antioxidants — plus fiber, which slows down the flow of sugar into your bloodstream, keeping your blood insulin levels even throughout your sporting activity.


Unless you’re an Ultra-Marathoner, gel is for your hair

Gorging on gels is not the only way, and usually not the best way, to fuel your training session.  Optimize your sessions through proper pre and post workout meals combined with adequate hydration.


Pre-workout snack

If you need a snack within an hour of your training session you will likely want to stay away from foods that require a lot of time to digest i.e. protein and fat. Instead aim for something simple and easy to breakdown like fruit. Having something too filling will distract your body from the task at hand: a killer workout.

Post-workout meal

Probably the most significant food factor in your training is what you have right after your workout session.  The best way to boost the rate of muscle glycogen storage is to combine protein with carbohydrate within up to 45 minutes post workout.  So instead of polishing off a bottle of Gatorade try a little chicken and veggies.



You can lose a lot of sweat in an hour of training, but your diet can usually make up for the lost electrolytes. If you’re training for more than hour, you may need to look to a replenish electrolytes and carbohydrates. Every 15-20 minutes we should be refueling with a 6-8% carbohydrate solution but this doesn’t have to be a store-bought, sugary sports drink. In Brendan Braziers book Thrive he shares a number of delicious and easy recipes for sports drinks. Or you can guzzle my favorite option, coconut water.


About the author:

Brittany Eidsness is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), Paleo-diet enthusiast, blogger, speaker, advisor and all-around complete food nerd. Check her out at, and @wild_lives.


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