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What you REALLY need to fuel your workouts.

I am on a ROLL discussing nutrition this month, it feels right, highlighting the importance of healthy food during a time of SO much food.

I coach my clients to use the food they are consuming at holiday parties and family gatherings as fuel for each workout.

Whether they are on a fat loss, endurance, or muscle gain journey, we turn our perspective on food into a nonbiased one. Labeling food as good or bad is a habit we break.

As a nutrition coach, I CAN provide you recommendations on fueling your athletic performance. Guess what?

If you're a runner or lifting weights for more than 45're an athlete in my eyes.

Let's talk energy for endurance.

The body stores enough glycogen for about 90 to 120 minutes of endurance exercise.

At this point in your workouts, most of the muscle glycogen stores have been used up and the body is trying to convert other forms of stored energy to glucose, as glucose is the required substrate. That stored energy is fat and lean tissue. The thing here is that the body prefers lean tissue over fat. I like to think of it as the filet mignon cut vs a fatty ribeye.

Now don't freak out. You're not losing all your muscles. This prioritizing of fuel happens after about 60 minutes of exercise.

Here is where using food as fuel comes in! A fueled body can store enough glycogen to fuel up to 120 minutes of continuous exercise.

Recommended macro distribution for endurance athletes, again- you work over 120 minutes every session is 25%Protein 55%Carbs 20%Fat.

OMG Coach! 55% carbs are insane. Yes, I know it is, but carbohydrates are critical for an endurance athlete and a continuous supply (8 to 12 grams/kilograms/day) is optimal (Kerksick et al., 2017)

That's like 480g of carbs for an athlete that consistently works over 120 minutes.

Timing for Endurance

👉🏽3 to 4 hours before exercise (for early runners, this is before you go to sleep!) Complex carbs and lean protein hydrate 20oz water. I love a casein protein shake with a banana and PB!

👉🏽30min to 1-hour pre-workout. High carbs, moderate protein, fat, and fiber. Poptarts, cereal, or a bagel/banana with a little bit of peanut butter. If not too hungry chocolate milk, yogurt, fruit, and nut butter, or a sports drink may be ok.

👉🏽Peri exercise- this is when you race for more than an hour. Think of a 10k, half marathon, or marathon. You need gels, provide sports gels, blocks, sports beans, sports drinks, fruit, or high-carbohydrate bars with little to moderate protein.

👉🏽Post Exercise - we need to replenish that glycogen (especially my friends running Dopey or consecutive races!) Consume 1 to 1.2 g/kg per hour for 4 to 6 hours post-exercise. We're talking, about pasta, rice, bread, and fruits like bananas. Protein: 0.25 to 0.3 g/kg post-exercise

16 to 24 oz water or sports drink for every pound lost during exercise

Now it's resistance training time!

Resistance-based exercise relies primarily on carbohydrates as well, however fueling for the development of strength is a bit different in terms of nutrient timing.

The food consists of meals and snacks throughout the day and avoids skipping meals. Good-quality carbohydrates (you know whole grains and starches), lean protein, and healthy fats should be the focus of all meals and snacks.

The macro ratio for nutrition for strength/explosive power is 30%protein, 40%carbs and 30% fat. Again, if your workouts are longer than 120 minutes, (why?!) then we need to look at endurance nutrition timing, BUT strength training should NOT be.

Nutrient Timing

👉🏽4-5 hours pre-workout. I also love to throw in the casein protein shake at night, but greek yogurt with berries and flaxseed is a perfect pre-bedtime snack.

👉🏽Pre-workout fuel is the most important as it creates an anabolic environment. Just think of a balanced body where food is fuel- it's an environment that is balanced to allow for muscle growth, hormone balance, and energy reserves. Pre-workout timing 1-1.5 hours pre=-workout- that's around 60g of carbs, 30g of protein, and 20g of fat for a 145lb person. Oatmeal is my go-to pre-workout meal. I like it because it contains more fiber and fat to slow down digestion

👉🏽Peri exercise- this is where you're lifting hella heavy, and are feeling low on fuel. You can replenish with 15-30g of quick-release carbs- this is where those Quest or Bulitbars come in HELLA handy. You can also drink a Gatorade or Powerade.

👉🏽Post Exercise it was previously believed that if you didn't feel immediately with a protein shake after you worked out all the gains would disappear. Studies now show that you won't lose or gain if you do not consume protein right after, but it is recommended to eat before the four-hour mark. Here you want to ensure you're consuming at least 20g of protein and replenishing your carbs. I usually recommend hitting rice, beans, and lean chicken with tons of veggies after a workout. Chicken Kitchen anyone?

This post was loaded with information, let me know what you think in the comments below. Need a little more guidance? Schedule a complimentary call with me- no strings attached.

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  1. Chad M. Kerksick, Shawn Arent, Brad J. Schoenfeld, Jeffrey R. Stout, Bill Campbell, Colin D. Wilborn, Lem Taylor, Doug Kalman, Abbie E. Smith-Ryan, Richard B. Kreider, Darryn Willoughby, Paul J. Arciero, Trisha A. VanDusseldorp, Michael J. Ormsbee, Robert Wildman, Mike Greenwood, Tim N. Ziegenfuss, Alan A. Aragon & Jose Antonio (2017) International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14:1, DOI: 10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4

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