An all-around healthy diet is best for any exercise routine, but cardiovascular exercise requires a balance of special nutrients. If you get cardiovascular exercise regularly, here’s how to fuel up.
Cardio exercises like walking, running and biking require energy from both carbohydrates and fat. Carbohydrates are the body’s No. 1 go-to source, but healthy sources of fat also give ample doses of energy.
As exercise intensity changes, the body switches back and forth between carbs and fat to provide energy. Since you can’t completely control how and when the body needs what nutrient, it’s best to have adequate amounts of both as a regular part of the diet.
Best choices for carbs are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and dairy. The healthiest types of fats come from olive oil, avocado, nuts, peanut butter, eggs and salmon.
If you have 3 to 4 hours before exercise, eat a regular meal.
• A salad with grilled chicken, vinaigrette dressing and whole-wheat roll
• Turkey and cheese or PB and J on whole-grain bread
• Grilled salmon with brown rice and broccoli
• Whole-grain pasta with feta cheese and grilled veggies
If you have 60 minutes or less before exercise have a low-fat (and relatively low-protein) snack.
• Nonfat yogurt
• A low-fat granola bar
• A piece of fruit
• A handful of pretzels
The post-workout window is time for refueling energy stores and helping tired and worn-out muscles recover. That means more healthy carbs plus a boost of protein. If it’s been more than four hours since your last meal, it’s time for another one. If not, try one of these snack options:
• A glass of chocolate milk
• Hummus with pita chips
• A protein bar (in a time crunch)
• Half of a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread