Exercise and Nutrition: What Do We Really Need?

BraveSkiMom.com – Skiers are active people in the winter, so of course, we’re active in the summer. What do you do in the spring, summer and fall, when the snow has melted and the skis are hanging up? Bike? Run? Hike? Skiers are active people in the winter, so of course, we’re active in the summer.

In addition to all of the above, I’ve been doing  P90X in my home for the past several months. After each workout, my TV trainer Tony Horton, exhorts me to imbibe of the P90X recovery drink. I ignored him for two months, thinking to myself, “He’s just trying to sell me something I don’t need.” Then, one day, the message got through and I decided to do some research on nutrition and recovery. Here’s what I found out.

For a fun 5k, you won’t need much at all, not even the cookies and donuts at the end.

You Don’t Need That Much Food

Gina Kolata writes for the Well Blog at the New York Times. She is also a competitive runner and cyclist. According to her research, most of us eat too much when we exercise. We’ve been conditioned to carry energy bars and to take breaks to refuel, before we’ve even used our fuel. Simply put, we’re eating more than we need before, during and after each workout.

What About Blood Sugar?

That being said, if you’re going to exercise for more than two hours, you will need fuel. Glucose, in the form of carbohydrates, is necessary to replenish your blood sugar and prevent the body from breaking down muscle. After a strenuous workout, you also need protein. According to another post by Kolata, muscle glycogen (the body’s primary fuel during strenuous workouts) can be replenished within 24 hours by taking in carbohydrates and protein after exercise.

My husband, Mr. Cyclocross.

Or, as my friend Bill Plock (a triathlete who trains with Carmichael Training Systems and blogs atColoradobikeaholics.com) puts it, “I think recovery is a big deal, especially when it comes to nutrition. I think its important that people find a good protein/carb mix to help the muscles repair and a day off is a good thing. The adage of it’s better to miss a day of training than a day of recovery is vital.”

Carbs and Protein

So it turns out that my P90X buddy, Tony Horton, isn’t just trying to sell me something I don’t need. But what do I need? According to Lisa Smith of NutritionFix (an online retailer for sports nutrition and health supplements), “It’s important to eat or drink some extra nutrients within an hour of working out because your muscles will need the fuel right away. If you consume something that is easier to digest, the more likely your muscles will be able to absorb those nutrients in time, which is why we prefer post workout drinks.“ Smith emphasizes that the ratio of carbohydrates to protein is also important. She suggests drinks that have a 2:1:1 ratio of carbs to amino acids to protein.

Keep Drinking

Finally, while you may want to rethink eating during your workout, ongoing hydration is important, especially in arid climates, winter and summer. And so are electrolytes. Or, as Amy Parulis puts it on the Eastern Mountain Sports blog, “Sweating is not just pain leaving your body, it is also water, sodium, potassium, chloride, and a bunch of other ions. These ions, especially the ones that combine to make salts (think NaCl), are known as electrolytes. An easy way to replace these sneaky little electrolytes sweating out of your body is to drink them.”

Last year, I wrote a post on hydration that included an easy recipe from Carmichael Training Systems for making your own electrolyte drink. You can find it here.

My Recovery Drink

So after all of this, what did I do? Did I buy the expensive P90X recovery drink? No, I didn’t. Instead I went online and looked for recommendations. In the end, I decided to make my own drink using ½ scoop of powdered energy drink and ½ scoop of whey protein with amino acids mixed in water. I’m probably getting more sugar than I want, but the price is right.

Do you think its important to eat or drink something after strenuous exercise? What about during a long race or ride? What do you recommend for recovery?


This post contains a compensated link back to NutritionFix.com. As always all opinions expressed are my own and are exactly what I would tell me family and friends. 

© 2012, The Brave Ski Mom. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post.

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