Nutrition Before, During and After Physical Exercise

Food intake should be adjusted when practicing sports, favoring foods that provide an extra dose of vitality, when a great physical effort is made this complete guide of nutrition before, during and after physical exercise helps to replenish energy.

Those who do physical activity or a sport that involves a lot of demand should resort to the foods that provide more energy to avoid the feeling of fatigue.

Foods based on carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids, are an invaluable help, because they provide extra calories and are digested very quickly, reduce fatigue, increase performance and facilitate a faster recovery.

The energy supplied by food should never be greater than the energy expenditure of the individual. The less active a person is, the less energy input will be needed and, consequently, the greater the content of essential nutrients, per unit of energy.

The intake of carbohydrates for the athlete must be between 55 and 65% of the total calories; that is, 1/4 ounce. per pound of body weight (per day).

They are divided into three groups: monosaccharides (fructose), oligosaccharides (sucrose) and polysaccharides (they include foods such as bread, pasta, rice and cereals in general).

Proteins should contribute approximately 10-15% of the total calories ingested by the person, always with an adequate compensation between proteins of animal origin and those of vegetable origin. Contrary to what many trainers and athletes believe, protein requirements during intense exercise do not increase significantly in adults.

  1. Lipids are the fundamental component of adipose tissue, and can amount to more than 10% of a person’s body weight.

  1. The minerals that fulfill the most important role for the good development of physical activity are calcium, sodium, potassium, chlorine, magnesia, phosphorus, sulfur, iodine, iron and zinc.

  1. Within vitamins, it is necessary to highlight the presence of those belonging to group B such as B1 (necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates), B3 and B6 (necessary for the metabolism of food).

Nutrition before, during and after physical exercise according to each sport

When the need for energy is greater, it is best to combine three groups of foods:

  1. Muscle Makers: they favor the growth and the formation of muscular mass. They are composed of proteins (meats and fish, eggs, legumes and dairy).

  1. Energy: provide calories to develop any physical activity.

There are two groups of energy foods: Carbohydrates (rice, pastas, sugars, oils and nuts) and fats. The latter are processed in the liver and stored more easily than carbohydrates. When these are not available, the body uses them to obtain the energy it needs and they constitute the main reserves of the body. It is estimated that around 50% of the food should be made up of carbohydrates, while only 30% should include fats.

Fats can be saturated or unsaturated. The first group includes milk, sausages, butter, and in the second group, vegetable oils and fish. While saturated fats are necessary in very small proportions and increase blood cholesterol levels, unsaturated fats have a regulating action.

  1. Regulators: make absorption easier, in addition to normalizing and balancing each process of the organism. Regulatory foods are mainly fruits and vegetables.

The nutrition before, during and after physical has been deeply studied in the past few years and athletes can improve significantly by using the finding in those reports.

Recent studies determined that the lack of iron in the diet produces lack of attention and poor memory, and that those who consume little magnesium are more susceptible to stress. You can find Iron mainly in meat, eggs, nuts, cereals and legumes, while you can get magnesium from vegetables and legumes, fruit and cocoa.

Each sport practice has specific characteristics (duration, muscles and organs that are set in motion, place where it is performed, temperature and humidity, among other aspects), which will condition the energy expenditure and nutritional needs of the athlete.

Health and sports professionals can prepare tables which indicate the average energy expenditure, based on each sports event and the training periods, according to the type of activity; however, it is best to perform these calculations in a personalized manner.

Some general dietary recommendations for strength and endurance sports are:

Strength sports

8 ounces of whole-wheat bread (for the whole day).

33 fL. oz of low-fat dairy

4 ounces of meat or 5 ounces of fish or equivalent in eggs (at lunch and dinner).

12 ounces of fresh fruit and 8 ounces in juice and 4 ounces of dried fruit (in breakfast, desserts or between meals).

7 ounces of pasta or rice or 7 ounces of potatoes (lunch and dinner). 1 ounce of olive oil.

1/2 ounce of honey or sugar.

1 ounce of nuts or 2 ounces of whole-wheat cookies (at breakfast, mid-morning or snack).

Endurance sport

8 ounces of whole-wheat bread (for the whole day).

24 ounces of low-fat dairy.

1 ounce of olive oil.

4 ounces of meat or 5 ounces fish or equivalent in eggs (lunch and dinner).

10 ounces of fresh fruit and 8 ounces in juice and 2 ounces of dried fruit (at breakfast, desserts or between meals).

1 ounce of honey or sugar.

7 ounces of pasta or rice or 7 ounces of potatoes (lunch and dinner).

1 ounce of nuts or 2 ounces of whole-wheat cookies (at breakfast, mid-morning or afternoon).

Increasing Body Mass o Muscle

There are certain foods that help the body increase its muscle mass and avoid storing fat. They are even essential for losing weight, strengthening bones, reducing blood pressure, fighting cancer, improving immunity and fighting heart disease. They are:

Almonds and nuts:

Almonds contain proteins, monosaturated fats, vitamin E, folic acid, fiber, magnesium and phosphorus. They build muscles, fight obesity and heart disease.


They contain fiber, proteins, iron and folic acid. They help to burn fat and regulate digestion; fight obesity, colon cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Green vegetables:

Green vegetables neutralize free radicals, possess vitamins A, C and K, folic acid, beta carotene, calcium, magnesium and fiber. Combat cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity and osteoporosis.


They contain calcium, vitamins A and B12, riboflavine (B2), phosphorus and potassium. They strengthen bones, fight osteoporosis, obesity, high blood pressure and cancer. Avoid the consumption of whole milk.


Increases energy and sexual potency, reduces cholesterol and keeps blood sugar levels stable. It contains carbohydrates and fiber. Ideal to prevent heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and obesity.


They contain proteins and vitamins A and B12.

Lean meats:

They help to produce muscles and improve the immune system. They contain proteins, iron, zinc, creatine (beef), omega 3 (fish), vitamins B6 (chicken and fish) and B12, phosphorus and potassium.

Olive oil:

Contains monosaturated fat and vitamin E. It lowers cholesterol and helps the immune system.

Whole grains and cereals:

Whole grains and cereals contain fiber, proteins, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They prevent the body from storing fat and prevent obesity, cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease.


These drinks contain, in addition to sugars and mineral salts, caffeine or herbs such as ginseng or guarana seeds. Energy drinks provide 300 calories per half gallon and replenish water and mineral salts that you lose during exercise.

Mix in 2 quarts of water 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 3 teaspoons of sugar and juice of 3 lemons. Drink during and after physical activity.

The Stars of Nutrition for Athletes

Incorporate these tips for nutrition before, during and after physical exercise like running and improve your resistance.

1- Chocolate milk: In 2006, a study was conducted that confirmed the effectiveness of chocolate milk in the recovery of energy of athletes. The researchers clarified that the superiority of the chocolate is in the energy recovery stage, while before and during the exercise sports drinks were more effective.

2- Yogurt: Regular physical activity can affect the immune system and expose athletes to the risk of respiratory infections. However, research suggests that the probiotics included in yogurt can be beneficial in keeping the organism healthy.

3- Honey: Specialists point out that those foods that contain fructose and glucose are better than those that only contain glucose for energy recovery during physical resistance activities. Par ende, honey is an excellent alternative, given that it contains equal parts of fructose and glucose, as well as vitamins and antioxidants.

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