How to Fuel Up During Your Workout

Figuring out exactly how much to eat and drink during a workout can be like trying to communicate to your beloved how much you appreciate the dinner he cooked but aren’t quite so thrilled about the gargantuan mess he left behind: a delicate balancing act. After all, you want to stay energized and hydrated, but you certainly don’t want to cancel out all of those hard-burned calories!

Luckily, we’ve got the expert to show us the way: Dr. Natalie Digate Muth, who, in addition to being a registered dietitian, is also a physician, personal trainer, and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. Check out her savvy tips, then find your ideal fuel-up formula in the chart below.

* Exercising for 30 minutes or less? No need to eat or drink anything special while you sweat.

* When choosing a workout bar, chews, or gel (any of the three will work just fine), pick one with easily digestible carbs—in other words, low in fiber. Your body needs to be able to turn those carbs into energy quickly, not spend precious time and energy breaking them down.

* To keep your tummy from feeling grumpy and overloaded, divide the bar, chews, or gel so you're eating a small amount every 20 to 25 minutes.

* Trying to lose weight? It’s OK to eat a little less than the chart recommends.

* But don’t skimp on the sips! It’s crucial to make sure you’re replacing the fluid you’re losing through perspiration, especially in these steamy summer months. Depending on how hot it is and how much you sweat, you may need more (or less) than the amounts recommended below, so let your thirst be your guide.

For our favorite workout bars, chews, and drinks, check out our 2011 Gear Awards.


Length/Intensity of Workout What to Drink What to Eat
45 minutes, moderate 3 oz. water Nothing
90 minutes, moderate 3 oz. mixture of made of 75 percent water and 25 percent sodium and potassium containing sports drink every 15 mins. Workout bars, chews or gels containing 45 grams easily digested carbs
180 minutes+, moderate 3 oz. water/sports drink mixture (see above) every 15 minutes workout bar, chews or gel containing 40 grams per hour of easily digested carbs

Click here to see an extended version of this chart.

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