January is the time when many people endeavor to create a new workout routine, hit the gym hard and shake off holiday indulgences. Perhaps you’ve registered for a physical activity challenge or race this year. To get the most out of your new exercise regimen you need to back it up with the right nutrition. Here’s our guide of what to eat, when, and a sample week’s menu to kickstart your 2020 fitness resolutions.
Workout Nutrition – Before, During, and After
30 minutes or less (personal training session or a single racquetball game):
|Keep to your normal eating schedule and drink extra fluids.*|
45-60 minutes (HIIT or group fitness class):
If it’s been a few hours since mealtime, have an easily digestible carbohydrate snack plus 12 fl oz water an hour prior; or if you’ve eaten recently just a few crackers or an applesauce cup just before.
Have water at the ready
60-90 minutes (10K run, 5K mud run):
If it’s been a couple of hours since mealtime, have a sizable carbohydrate snack plus 16 fl oz water an hour prior; or if you’ve eaten recently just a few crackers or applesauce cup plus 8 fl oz water just before.
Gulp a sports drink (electrolyte-carbohydrate beverage) regularly1.
Small recovery snack advisable if not having a meal within an hour.
2+ hours (half marathon, 8-10 mile obstacle course):
Have a sizable carbohydrate and protein snack an hour prior plus 16 fl oz water; then a banana or half bagel plus 8 fl oz water just before.
Have 4-8 fl oz fluid replacement drink every 15 minutes during2; carb gel or gummies every ½ hour if your pace tends to drop toward the end.
Consume a recovery snack or shake with protein within 30 minutes.
* The American College of Sports Medicine advises to “avoid energy drinks before/during/after strenuous exercise.”
Remember that your whole day’s nutrition and hydration impacts your ability to perform at any length or time of day. Meals should be based on complex carbohydrates, lean protein and unsaturated fat. Focus on whole foods (mostly plant-based) that are minimally processed and that provide a variety of micronutrients with components from all food groups.
Sample Week of Training Meals & Snacks**
- AM: soy sausage, bagel, cream cheese, blueberries
- Noon: mashed potato, steamed veggies, pork loin chop
- PM: zucchini, brown rice, salmon, milk
- Snack: apple, peanut butter
- AM: oatmeal, chopped pecans, banana, Canadian bacon
- Noon: vegetable and cheese lasagna, side salad
- PM: corn on the cob, coleslaw, BBQ pork, milk
- Snack: plain nonfat yogurt, tropical fruit, walnut halves
- AM: cottage cheese, pineapple, sprouted grain bread, margarine
- Noon: whole black or pinto beans, wheat tortillas, shredded chicken, reduced fat cheese, avocado, salsa
- PM: curried tofu, cabbage, snow peas, onion, brown rice, basil
- Snack: melon, cashews
- AM: banana, whole wheat waffles, peanut butter, milk
- Noon: teriyaki beef stir-fry with bok choy, peppers, carrots, mushrooms
- PM: quinoa/rice pilaf, green beans, fish fillet, tartar sauce, grapes
- Snack: string cheese, orange
- AM: plain Greek yogurt with raspberries; white potato, peppers & onion as potatoes O’Brien (cooked in oil)
- Noon: noodles, broccoli, salmon, pesto sauce
- PM: corn cob, asparagus, grilled chicken, peach, milk
- Snack: hummus, celery, snap peas, carrots
- AM: melon, eggs (cooked in oil), bran cereal, milk
- Noon: spinach salad, reduced-fat salad dressing, roasted chicken breast, white beans, sweet potato
- PM: mango shrimp, black beans and avocado tostada, green beans
- Snacks: popcorn (light oil); edamame
- AM: bran flake cereal, almonds, milk, scrambled eggs, grapefruit
- Noon: whole-wheat pita, tuna, cucumber, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, green salad, light dressing
- PM: ham and bean soup with cornbread
- Snack: plain nonfat yogurt, dried fruit, granola
**Adjust portions, condiments, allergens and animal products according to your dietary restrictions and needs.
As with meal kits, the goal is for each full meal to provide less than 30 grams of fat, less than 1000 milligrams of sodium, at least 25 grams of protein (15 g for vegetarian) and 5 grams of fiber.
Plan ahead, shop right and prepare your own food as much as possible. Now fuel up and go for your goals!
- ”How To Maximize Performance Hydration” by NCAA Sport Science Institute and SCAN. https://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/Performance%20Hydration%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf Accessed 12/3/2019
- “Fluids and Hydration” by US Anti-Doping Agency. https://www.usada.org/athletes/substances/nutrition/fluids-and-hydration/ Accessed 12/3/2019