Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cardio Freaks gotta Eat

A primary reason to have a cardio based workout program is to kick up caloric expenditure. This is considered a negative calorie balance as you utilize more calories for energy compared to your typical diet. With long term training, your body will help you preserve certain energy souces in exchange for others, which can be considered more expendable, like fat. Even when you're not working out, such as when you're sleeping, your body will metabolize fat more readily. How exciting! But listen up. Don't skip out on meals in some low calorie diet! If you want to get down and sweaty on the cardio floor you should be eating consistently to assure your body it has the calories to support its needs, let alone give you the high boosted workout you look forward to. And after your exercise session, your body is going to demand a sufficient amount of nutritents to replesnish what it lost. This is important for your next day's activity.

A general rule is to stay away from eating at least an hour before exercise. In the case of a cardio workout, it could be suggested to wait 2 hours. One reason I feel comfortable sharing is what is called the hypoglycemic effect. This can occur when you consume foods with sugar such as a soft drinks, candy, or fruit/juice. The effects lead to low blood sugar, which is an important fuel source to the physiological needs of your active muscles. It can leave you feeling tired and lethargic-not optimal running conditions I'd say. Also, exercise just after eating can leave you with a full stomach as it reduces the digestive process. Some folks will vomit since the stomach doesn't like to be trapped holding undigested food.

If you eat 2-4 hours prior to an exercise session, it is recommended to have between 250-500 calories (or 65-125g) from carbohydrate. (Usually something high in carb, low in protein.) Here's a link for some food ideas (this is only a visual for those not comfortable with reading labels)

Also, some people like to work out in the morning without eating first. That's cool too. Actually, it can be beneficial for burning fat, but if you are dizzy you should think to eat first and wait. Spending so many hours fasting in your sleep can limit your energy sources, impacting your pace and duration.

Within less than 1 hour of working out, only water or fluid replacement (like Powerade or Gatorade) is practical.

After exercise, consume carbohydrates within the first 30 minutes of finishing. This is important as it will optimize energy (glycogen) stores (25-100g of carbohydrate is sufficient). This is equal to a cup of milk, 1/2 cup of juice, or a smoothie. These values are for a regular exercise session and not for competitions. Replenishing energy stores can take up to 20 hours, so remember it's just as important to rest as it is to exercise.

I hope for some of you this information was helpful. A message to take away from this is that eating in combination with exercise is necessary for weight loss. This is just another way to integrate your health knowledge and practices for a great school year!

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