Live Blog: Nutrition for Maximum Performance

This session was presented by Martha McKittrick RD, CDE (@citygirlbites) and sponsored by Canadian Maple Syrup (@purecanadamaple).

Many of us out there are active, so how can we use nutrition to enhance our workouts and overall performance? Nutrition plays a major role in helping you reach your goals regardless of what they are (marathon, triathlon, 5k, etc). What you eat is huge because, as the saying goes, it’s 80% diet and 20% exercise. In other words, the best training in the world won’t get you where you want to be without good nutrition.

Martha focused on several key things you can focus on to implement better nutrition into our daily lives.

  • Hydration Needs
    • We all know that our weight can fluctuate greatly due to water weight. Our muscles and body are made up of around 75% water. Because of this, dehydration decreases muscle strength, stamina, and performance.
    • So, how much do you need? The conventional norm on needing 8 cups of water is inaccurate. Women actually need around 9 cups, and men need 13 cups a day. While this varies depending on activity level, we should aim for those amounts.
      • We can (and should) get those cups from plain water, but tea, juice, fruits and veggies can also count as a source in limited quantities.
    • Before workouts, you should ensure you are sufficiently hydrated by drinking 15-20oz 2-3 hours before and 8-10oz 10-15 minutes before a workout
    • During a workout of 60 minutes or less, water is the best option. To stay fully hydrated, you should aim for 8-10 oz of water every 10-15 minutes. During a workout of 60 minutes or more, sports drinks or a gel with water should be added in to replace electrolytes and add carbs. Again, 8-10 oz every 10-15 minutes is best. With that said, you should try to find what works best for you and adjust for activity level.
    • After a workout, you should weigh yourself to see how much weight you lost during the workout. In order to gauge this, weigh yourself prior to working out so that you can easily tell the difference. You should not lose too much weight during a workout because a significant weight loss can indicate improper hydration. You should consume 20-24oz of water for every pound you have lost.
  • Importance of Carbs
    • If you’re not putting the right fuel in the tank, you’re not making the most out of your workouts. While people have different dietary restrictions they implement in their diet, generally speaking, carbs should make up 50-60% of your diet. They give you energy and can be obtained from fruit, yogurt, veggies, beans, grains, sugar, and maple syrup. If you participate in endurance exercise, at least 50% of your diet should come from carbs.
    • With our body needing so many carbs, should we be eating simple or complex? While we can get in healthy, natural carbs from whole grains to help fuel our bodies and restore glycogen stores, simple is best during a workout (eating a can of beans would obviously not be good during a long run). This is why pure maple syrup from Canada is a great option.
    • Pure maple syrup from Canada is unprocessed and 100% vegan. It contains beneficial vitamins and minerals that our body needs. ¼ cup meets 100% of our daily need for manganese and 17% of our daily need of zinc.
  • Protein Needs
    • When protein and exercise are mentioned, a lot of women are afraid of getting big and bulky, but you’re not going to get big. There is genetic potential for how much your muscles will grow. In fact, lack of protein causes improper repair of muscles and can actually decrease muscle mass.
    • Overall, 15-20% of your diet should be protein to prevent muscle loss. For endurance athletes, that translates to 1.2-1.6 grams per kilogram per day while strength athletes will need to consume more around 1.6-1.7 grams per kilogram. Strength training does require more protein, but not a significant amount more. For example, an average 130 pound active woman needs around 80 grams of protein per day while an average man should get 130-140 grams.
    • How you take in the protein is key. Daily protein needs should not be consumed all at once, like in a massive steak for dinner, because your body can only absorb around 40g at one time. Instead, spread out consumption throughout the day for maximum absorption. It is especially important to get in protein after a workout. Although there is a 2-hour window, the sooner you can get it in, the better. Chocolate milk or Greek yogurt sweetened with maple syrup are excellent options.
  • Adequate Calorie Intake
    • You need to take in enough to fuel a workout, but enough to still lose or maintain weight. This is a delicate balance, but extremely important. Not eating enough calories decreases immune system functionality. It also leads to fatigue and lack of stamina during exercise.
  • Nutrient timing
    • Before a workout, you should consume a snack or meal that contains carbs and protein but is low in fat and fiber. Excellent examples are maple rice pudding, oatmeal, yogurt with fruit, or toast with a little peanut butter. You really need carbs before a workout, and carbs with protein if you’re primarily strength training.
    • During a workout, you don’t need to eat anything if you are working out for less than an hour. For anything greater than that, you should take in 30-70 grams of carbs per hour. With that said, this should be adjusted for activity and can vary among people because 90 minutes of running is going to require more carbs than 90 minutes of yoga. Excellent sources during exercise are sports drinks, energy bars, and gels. All-natural maple sports drink is a great option as well.
    • After a workout, there is a maximum 2 hour window for recovery fueling, but within the first 30 minutes is optimal to restore your energy stores. Your meal/snack should contain carbs and protein in a 4:1 or 3:1 ratio, which many protein shakes do not have. A great example is the Fruity Maple Recovery Shake.
  • Questions:
    • How does intensity of exercise affect how much to consume? It depends on body weight, how many calories you burn and other factors. The more intense, the more you replete during and after. You might get sick if you take in too much during.
    • How should we fuel early in the mornings when we work out? Should we eat, should we not? Most studies prove that eating carbs before working out increases stamina and allows you to work out better. If you function better without, then do what works for you, but drink even a little bit of orange juice or smoothie or half a banana.
    • I can’t eat a lot before a long run because of my stomach. When is it too soon to eat? Try liquids, such as juice, so that it is lighter in your stomach than a smoothie. Just ensure you emphasize gels and nutrition during workouts.

This post was transcribed by Lena from Fit on the Rocks.