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How to Eat for Endurance & Performance (INFOGRAPHIC)

Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.

You’ve probably heard that you should “load up” on carbs before a workout. Or that you should consume some protein as soon as you’re done. But what are the real “rules” when it comes to eating for endurance and performance? A new infographic from National Athletic Trainers’ Association takes a closer look, providing specific guidelines for athletes looking to improve their nutrition.

Three to Four Hours Before Workout

In the hours leading up to workout, you’ll want to optimize your carbohydrate status to prevent fatigue and restore glycogen content. Meals that are high in carbs, low in fat and fiber, and low-to-moderate in protein can be a good fit. Examples include pancakes or waffles with syrup, bagel with cream cheese, a couple of eggs with toast and fruit, or yogurt with granola.

Less Than One Hour Before Workout

Right before a workout, you’ll want to consume some more carbs so you’ll have plenty of fuel. Good options include sports gels, bars or drinks; pretzels or crackers; or high-carb granola bars.

During Workout

During your workout, you need to provide your hard-working muscles with a little extra fuel. For workouts lasting around an hour or less, these carbs can help improve performance. For workouts lasting longer than two hours, carbs can help prevent or delay hypoglycemia and increase endurance.

Good food options include sports gels, bars and drinks; small pieces of fruit (a clementine, for example); half a banana, a small apple, or a handful of grapes.

Immediately After Workout

Following a workout, you should consume carbs and protein to assist in glycogen restoration and prevent fatigue. Low-fat chocolate milk, a smoothie, yogurt, bagel, or piece of fruit with peanut butter are a few good options.

One to Two Hours After Workout

Finally, you’ll want to restore fluids and provide your body with energy in the hour or two after a workout. Recovery is necessary for restoration of muscle and liver glycogen storage. You’ll also want to replace fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat. Consume carb-rich and protein-rich foods to aid in muscle repair and improve muscle glycogen storage. Examples include whole grain or brown rice with grilled chicken/fish; whole wheat pasta with meat sauce or meatballs; hoagie/wrap; or sweet potato and steak.

For more information, check out the full infographic below…

Schedule With a Houston Sports Medicine Doctor

For more information about eating right for peak performance, contact Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics by calling (713) 756-5546.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.