Here are some tips for fueling up before (and after) the big race...
1. FOOD IS FUEL
Food provides energy to the body! Often times, in the midst of diet, exercise and training, we forget that in order to make healthy physical activity choices and changes, we need the energy to do so at our best. Just as it’s important to not forget to eat healthy when we are training, it’s also important to remember that exercise is not an excuse to eat the entire pumpkin pie by yourself-- unless you’re in a pumpkin pie eating contest, in which case, add some whipping cream and stay competitive!
2. EAT BEFORE YOU RUN
Try high-carbohydrate with lean protein foods 1 to 2 hours before exercise. Carbohydrates are the body’s ideal energy source. During a run, working muscles break down and carbohydrates (sugar in the blood) are used for energy. Providing the macronutrients you need before exercise is like putting gas in a car.
Contrary to popular belief, most Thanksgiving buffets offer many options for healthy snacking. Cheese, fruit, veggie, hummus and bean dip platters, plates of crackers, and leftovers aplenty can make great options pre-exercise. Choose a handful of fruit with a slice of cheese, a glass or low-fat white or chocolate milk, or whole grain crackers with peanut butter.
3. REFUEL AND RECOVER
Your muscles are primed for recovery following a long run. Eating 30-60 minutes after exercise replaces lost energy and begins to rebuild muscle. Chocolate milk is our favorite choice after exercise because it provides natural sugar (lactose) and some added sugar for replacing carbohydrate as well as protein. Additionally, it tastes great, and satisfies thirst, providing fluid, electrolytes and nutrients required for active recovery.
Still feeling sore? Try some natural antioxidants—add bright colors to a fruit smoothie. Any fresh cranberries in your fridge post-Thanksgiving? Try adding a handful of cranberries to a blender with a whole ripe banana (for sweetness) a cup of yogurt, a cup of milk and a cup of frozen berries or fruit mix.