By Melissa Tewes
Special to The Herald-Mail
Proper nutrition is paramount to leading a healthful lifestyle, whether your goal is to lose weight or to provide your body with adequate fuel to run a marathon. Regardless of what you are trying to achieve, you will not reach your goals without a healthful diet.
Carbohydrates are important to fuel the body. If you are trying to lose weight while exercising, do not eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. The more you exercise, the more carbohydrates your body will require.
One of the biggest questions a dietitian receives regarding exercise nutrition is "What should I eat before I work out?"
For the average person participating in 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day, you most likely don't need a preworkout meal or snack. For moderately intense exercise, you will use most of the stored carbohydrates in your body, called glycogen.
If your diet is adequate in energy, you do not need to worry about adding an additional meal or snack just prior to exercise.
The most important thing to do is listen to your body signals. Ideally, you should have a well-balanced meal one to two hours before your workout, but this does not always fit with tight schedules.
If it has been several hours since your last meal or snack, you might want to experiment with eating a snack of 100 to 200 calories about 30 minutes before you exercise.
If you choose to have a preworkout snack, select one that is high in carbohydrates and low in fat, so it is easily and quickly digested. Some examples include fruit, fruit juice, sports drinks, a bagel or an energy bar.
Also, make sure you are adequately hydrated prior to exercising. Without adequate fluid, your exercise program will suffer.
Unless you are participating in high-intensity exercise that lasts beyond a few hours, such as a marathon, you do not need to eat during the activity.
Make sure you are drinking about four ounces of water for every 15 minutes of exercise. Sports drinks can be used to replace lost electrolytes but are not necessary unless your activity lasts beyond an hour. Water is best because sports drinks are often high in calories and sugar, so if weight management is your goal, be careful to choose wisely.
Choosing post-workout meals does not need to be difficult. Again, if your diet is adequate in energy, you do not need to worry about selecting the perfect meal or snack to follow exercise. Remember, exercise does not give you the key to eat everything in sight.
If weight loss is your goal, you need to consume less energy or calories than you burn in a day. If it will be several hours before your next meal, consider adding another 100- to 200-calorie snack that consists of carbohydrates and protein. Examples include a bagel with peanut butter or cheese, fruit and cottage cheese, milk and cereal, or half a sandwich.
In an ideal world, we should all be eating every three to four hours, so nutrition surrounding your workouts should not be a stress. The most important thing with exercise nutrition is to get to know your body and what works best for you.
Melissa Tewes is the clinical nutrition manager at Meritus Medical Center. She has 16 years of experience as a registered dietitian and is also a certified personal trainer.
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Chewy power bars taste great, don't take a bite out of budgets
By Joe Fleischman
Special to The Herald-Mail
With healthful living a priority in so many of our lives, wouldn't it be nice to be able to make a healthful, post-workout snack that's tasty and cost-effective?
This easy protein bar delivers on both accounts. This recipe produces about 12 bars, at the cost of about 30 cents each.
If you compare that with the cost of store-bought brands, your monthly savings might help you pay for a gym membership. Feel free to modify the recipe by substituting trail mix for the mixed nuts or corn flakes for the raisin bran.
Joe Fleischman is executive chef at Meritus Medical Center. He has 20 years of experience as a professional chef, culinary instructor and speaker.
Super-chewy peanut butter power bars
1 cup honey
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup reduced-fat peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups raisin bran cereal
3 cups rolled oats, uncooked
1 cup mixed nuts
In a saucepan over medium heat, boil honey and brown sugar until no longer grainy. Add peanut butter and vanilla; whisk until smooth.
Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Stir until coated.
Press mixture into lightly greased 9-by-9-inch baking pan and allow mixture to "set up" for 60 minutes. Slice into 12 bars.