May 26 • 05:27 PM

Athletes need proper 'fuel' for peak performance

July 07, 2010
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of exercise and healthy lifestyle columns from Capac native Ryan Miller. Miller is a 1989 Capac High School graduate who works as a certified and licensed athletic trainer in Metro Detroit. He is in the midst of running 50 marathons in 50 states and will compete in a 100 mile ultra marathon later this summer. He and his wife, Trudy and daughter, Erica, live in Warren.

One of the most common questions people ask when it comes to sports and exercise is "what and how much do I need to eat and drink before, during and after exercise?"

Recently, the American Diabetic Association, the Dieticians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine published a joint statement that includes recommendations. What follows are some basics everyone should know.


•Meals should depend on the type of exercise or activity you'll be doing. Also, timing is key but not always easy due to life's busy schedule.

•Studies show that an athlete's performance is boosted when they consume 200-300 grams of carbohydrates three to four hours before competition.

•Choose liquid carbohydrates over food as the game or exercise start time approaches.

•At least two to three hours before exercise, drink 12-20 ounces of water or sports drink. This will allow for optimal hydration and allow time for excretion of excess fluids. More fluids are required on hotter and more humid days.

During exercise

•Carbohydrate consumption should begin shortly after the start of exercise.

•For events lasting one hour or less, a sports drink with 60-80 grams of carbs per liter is sufficient.

•For events longer than one hour, consumption of 30-60 grams per hour is ideal.

•Consumption of 6-12 ounces of sports drink with a 6-8 percent CHO (carbohydrate) concentration every 15-30 minutes during exercise can extend exercise capacity of athletes who participate in prolonged or intermittent sports.

Port-exercise recovery

•There is a brief window (the first 30-45 minutes) for post-exercise recovery no matter how long the exercise lasted. It's during this time frame when the most rapid glycogen re-synthesis occurs. Studies have shown that carbohydrate intake within 30 minutes after exercise increases glycogen storage and decreases recovery time when compared to athletes who waited two hours after exercise.

•Also, it is important to replenish your protein stores at this time. A protein snack will enhance muscle repair and growth. Recent research suggests that about 20 grams of protein post-exercise is the maximum amount needed. •Also, ingesting 7-10 grams of protein along with carbohydrates every couple of hours up to six hours post-exercise has been shown to increase muscle repair and growth over time.

A simple guideline would be to continue to replenish carbs and protein over the course of two to three hours post-exercise.

•Remember that water alone is not enough for recovery. The body does lose water during exercise in addition to other key nutrients. A mixture of water and sports drink along with healthy snacks will help the body replenish lost electrolytes and make your body ready for its peak performance.

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