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Nutrition 101: How to fuel up for fitness
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By Jessica Thompson, ATI Physical Therapy
Jan. 16, 2013 11:48 a.m.



Water, sports drinks, energy chews, protein bars, recovery shakes, bananas, carbohydrates – which should you put in your body before a workout? What about after? Which help aid weight loss? Which help aid muscle building? 

You’re not the only one with these questions. Jessica Thompson, a sports medicine supervisor at ATI Physical Therapy in Delaware, shares what you need to know to properly fuel up for fitness:

1. Water is the way to go during a workout: During an actual workout or game, water is the way to go. It helps replenish and hydrate you throughout your exercise session.

2. Save your sports drinks for before or after your sweat session: Studies have shown that the nutrients in sports drinks aren’t absorbed in your system right away. Therefore, use it before or after a workout when your body has time to absorb the nutrients and properly replenish. 

3. Power through strength training with protein: Hitting the gym to lift weights and do some strength training? Try to eat about 90 minutes before your workout. The pre-workout snack should consist of a protein or energy bar and some fruit. Protein helps you build muscle and fruit contains natural sugars to give you an energy boost. 

4. Kill your cardio workout with carbs: Ramping up for a cardio workout? Be sure to get some carbohydrates before your workout. A small meal of whole grain carbohydrates (like wheat bread or crackers) along with fruit can help you power through a cardio workout and give you the energy you need. 

5. Carbohydrates key after a workout: When recovering from a workout, it’s important to replenish yourself with plenty of carbohydrates and some proteins within 30 minutes of finishing. With its mix of carbs and protein, chocolate milk is a great recovery food. And, even though you just worked out, it’s important to avoid anything with a lot of fat. Your body needs nutrients after exerting itself, and that’s not something fatty foods can typically provide. 

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