Intra-workout nutrition doesn’t only apply to what you’re putting into your body while you are exercising. Rather, it encompasses what you eat or drink before, during and after a workout.

What you ingest at those intervals can affect how you hold up during workouts and the results you get out of them. Billy Wunderlich, personal training coordinator at LifeBridge Health & Fitness, offers these tips for your intra-workout nutrition regimen:

Hydrate and get enough electrolytes.

You should drink water at least an hour and a half before your workout. And give yourself an electrolyte boost, either via food sources or a supplement (as always, consult your doctor or nutritionist about any supplement that you’re considering taking). 

Electrolytes are essential to muscle contractions, and so for the best performance your electrolyte levels should be optimized. Sometimes a banana or yogurt, well-known sources of electrolytes, isn’t the lightest thing on your digestive tract, Wunderlich says, in which case melon or an apple might be better because they have more fluid (which helps with hydration) as well as simple sugars and vitamins and minerals.

“You want to make sure that you’re hydrated and that you have your electrolytes up to snuff, because if not, as soon as you step into the gym and you really want to get after it, you might cramp, or you might get stomach issues, or you might not even have enough fluid in your body to break a sweat,” Wunderlich says.

Proteins are essential, too.

Leading up to your workout, Wunderlich says, you want to make sure you have a good flow of amino acids, or proteins, in the bloodstream so that your body can pull from them while you’re working out.

“Usually, liquid nutrition is the best, whether it’s a full protein supplement, whether it’s whey protein, it can be hemp protein, something like that. But you need a full spectrum of aminos,” he says.

Wunderlich adds: “Whey protein is probably one of the easiest assimilated forms of protein. If you have any problems with whey or milk products, then egg protein is the next best option. Egg protein is really, really gentle on the stomach.”

Eat light during workouts.

When eating during a workout, go with something that’s light and gentle on the stomach, such as dried fruit. “If you just want to drink an essential amino acid mix during your workout, that would be best,” Wunderlich says.

Time your post-workout meals accordingly.

Your post-workout nutrition will depend on your goals, Wunderlich says. If you’re trying to lose weight, you should wait about an hour before you eat something.
Wunderlich says that if you boost your insulin levels by eating shortly after a workout “you will blunt the fat-burning effects of the workout itself. Not only will you blunt the fat burning, you will also hinder some of the positive benefits of the healing process that your body undergoes after a hard workout.”

If you’re doing multiple workouts in a day, “you’re going to want to get nutrition in as soon as you can” so that your body can recover faster in between workouts, Wunderlich says. Unless you are on a ketogenic diet, try to keep your fat intake lower surrounding a workout.

Another tip: It’s good to rotate your proteins and not stick with one particular source of protein for a prolonged period, Wunderlich says.

Dedicated to improving the lives of individuals in its surrounding communities through compassionate, high-quality care, LifeBridge Health advocates preventive, wellness and fitness services as well as educational programs.

LifeBridge Health & Fitness, an award-winning fitness center located in Pikesville in Baltimore County, has state-of-the-art equipment, trained fitness professionals and other unique amenities that help guide members of all ages and fitness levels in their journey to a healthier way of life.

Call 410-601-WELL for more information about LifeBridge Health services or to schedule an appointment with a physician.