Fueling Before + After Exercise: Q&A

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on July 8, 2009

Hello, Happy Hump-day!

This was me at midnight last night, finally done my day!


Eric was also hard at work…

He did the first coat of paint in my workout room!!!! :D


Check out his blog this morning (around 9am) for the finished product!

Also, you still have 1 day left to enter the amazing Neal Brother’s giveaway!


Yesterday, a fabulous OSG reader named Michelle, directed me to this awesome Q+A featured on the New York Times Health website.

BonciPhotoColor1 Below is a summary of Tara Parker-Pope’s interview with Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a certified specialist in sports dietetics.

Leslie is also the author of a new book, “Sports Nutrition for Coaches” found on Amazon.

I summarized the key points below that I found were interesting regarding fueling for exercise- a topic that I have been very interested in lately!

  1. Think of food as your inner equipment. You wouldn’t drive a car with a flat tire, right? Well, we shouldn’t exercise without fuel in our tanks either!
  2. Two common mistakes people make are A) Not fueling before exercise (you will be weak) and B) Eating too much before exercise (your stomach will feel too full and uncomfortable). It is a fine line to achieve a happy medium!
  3. Eating 1 hour before exercise is generally good for most people (mostly carbs).
  4. One hour before exercise, you should have 20 ounces of liquid. It takes 1 hour for this amount of liquid to leave the stomach and make its way to the muscles.
  5. If you workout longer than 1 hour, you need to fuel during exercise. Aim for about 30-60 grams of carbs per hour. Gels, honey, sugar cubes, or sports drinks are suggested sources.
  6. Eat within 15 minutes of exercise. “The enzymes that help the body re-synthesize muscle glycogen are really most active in that first 15 minutes. The longer we wait to eat something, the longer it takes to recover.”
  7. Refueling after exercise helps prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness. Especially after intense exercise you MUST refuel or you risk a lengthened recovery time!
  8. Peanut butter sandwiches are often recommended because they have both carbs and protein. They are also inexpensive and nonperishable! You can take them anywhere.
  9. Fluid intake should be between 14 ounces and 40 ounces per hour depending on how much you sweat. It varies widely by the person.

10.  If you don’t take in enough fluid, you risk heat injury and joint injury. Your speed, stamina, and strength will also diminish.

11.  To gulp or sip your water? Gulping your water is apparently better because having a greater volume of fluid in the stomach stimulates the activity of the stretch receptors in the stomach. This increases intra-gastric pressure and promote faster emptying.

12.  Three meals a day is not enough for someone who is physically active. You should have at least 3 meals and at least 2 snacks a day to keep your energy up.

You can read the full interview here.


Some things I found interesting in the interview:

  • 1 hour before exercise try to have 20 ounces of water.


I must say aside from my recent 10k race, I don’t tend to give my liquid intake much thought before exercise. I am usually on my way out the door for a run, when I stop and go, ‘oh crap- water!"’ and I gulp some down and hit the road. I really want to pay more attention to my water intake 1 hour before and see if this makes a difference.

  • Peanut butter sandwiches are a great fuel source.

Ok, I guess I knew this, but it never really ‘sunk in’ just how awesome PB sandwiches are- tasty, filled with carbs and some protein, portable, nonperishable, and CHEAP! The wonder snack! :) And come on…who doesn’t need a few more reasons to eat some PB?

  • Gulping water is better than sipping water.

I am still not 100% convinced of this claim, but it is worth a shot! :)

What are your thoughts of this interview?

Now I have a fun question for all of you today that isn’t really related to the Q+A, but I thought I would ask it anyways!

What ‘health products’ do you LOVE but HATE how expensive they are???

I’ll go first:

  • Coconut oil
  • Brown rice syrup/agave nectar
  • ALL organic produce
  • Tea Tree Oil Astringent that I buy
  • Almond butter
  • Organic canned salmon (like $5-6 a CAN! what the heck!)
  • Bagged TEA (Yogi tea, anyone!?) Which is why I have switched to loose leaf for the time being!
  • Veggie burgers
  • Amy’s products (I find they are highly overrated personally. Every time I check the nutritional info they are loaded with sodium!)
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Vegan margarine
  • Specialty cereal (Kashi, and the like)
  • liquid garlic (Kyolic)
  • CHIA seeds!! I tried buying some yesterday and it was going to be like $40 for 2 cups worth! I had to put them back :(

Ok, I will stop now! lol…

What about YOU?


Thank you to everyone for submitting your green monster stories to me ([email protected])! I will be updating them this morning, so be sure to check for your post! Submit your story today!

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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope July 8, 2009 at 8:02 am

What ‘health products’ do you LOVE but HATE how expensive they are???

I pretty much hate how I have to pay EXTRA for my food to NOT be covered in pesticides! It should be the opposite;)


Madison July 8, 2009 at 8:19 am

Jeez Lawhhheeeeez–Almond butter, good cereals, and greek yogurt are SO expensive!!!! I think the healthy foods in America should be cheap so that more people will buy them. Maybe our obesity rate would decrease too!


Shannon (The Daily Balance) July 8, 2009 at 8:30 am

I saw that same article and thought it was great!! I definitely hear ya on the pricey organic produce — so worth it to me, but I wish others less fortunate had the opportunity to purchase affordable produce that isn’t covered in pesticide!


Mara @ What's For Dinner? July 8, 2009 at 8:33 am

OMG! You’re going to love my giveaway/coupon this week!!! $10 for 32 oz. coconut oil!!! :)
Oh, and i HATE how spendy almond butter is, i love it and its so expensive. I usually cave and buy it anyway, but its quite ridiculous.


Jenny Marie July 8, 2009 at 8:38 am

greek yogurt for sure!!!


Ellen @ Peace in Motion July 8, 2009 at 8:42 am

almond butter, greek yogurt and non sugary cereals. It’s so unfortunate that the healthiest foods in our diets are often the most expensive!


Melanie July 8, 2009 at 8:52 am

Agave nectar, definitely. Larabars, Clif bars…buying them by the box really puts their individual prices into perspective. Sunflower seed butter, and almond butter (which is so expensive that I haven’t gotten to try it yet).


Jenn July 8, 2009 at 8:53 am

Grrrr, all of the “health” food is more expensive – so wrong.

The one that really gets me is the Kashi Cinnamon Harvest cereal. It’s sooooo darn good but crazy expensive. $6.99 a box at the Superstore here!!!


Sam July 8, 2009 at 8:55 am

Great post, it was really interesting to read the interview. All healthy foods seem to be expensive over here, even simple things like fruit and veg. It makes me made that it’s so much cheaper to eat junk!


Sarah July 8, 2009 at 8:57 am

Most of mine have been named already, but I’ll name them again.

Almond butter (OMFG!!), healthier cereals, organic produce, larabars and the like, soy yogurts, and some of the meat alternatives (I’m especially fond of the meatless sandwich meats or burgers, which get pretty pricey sometimes)… All of these are staples in my kitchen, and all of them cost way more than is reasonable.


Jaya July 8, 2009 at 9:09 am

Angela, I love your question about expensive food products!
Mine are:
-Agave nectar
-Almond butter
-Coconut oil
-Really good oils and vinegars
-High quality/fairly-traded chocolate
-Vanilla essence (a weakness for Tahinitian, Mexican and Madagascar vanilla!)

I guess we sometimes need to ask ourselves, where are we willing to sacrifice a bit, so that we can spend on what really matters. I have always found that despite the sometimes high cost of eating the best quality foods, it is still so much more fulfilling and thrifty to invite others to eat and drink in my home than to eat out. Once in a while it is great to get out, but the pleasure of sharing wonderful food and times with others far outweighs the expense.

Great question – I so enjoyed reading others’ responses and seeing the common items (i.e. agave, a.butter and greek yogurt)!


leslie July 8, 2009 at 9:11 am

i read that article yesterday and found it very interesting as well. i wish interviews like that were more common than the typical diet ones, particularly because of that last point. far too many magazines or talk shows encourage people to amp up their exercise without reminding them that more exercise means more food! even if you’re trying to lose weight, this is still true.

products i love that are way too exxpensive: almond butter!! also, organic produce, fage, tea (loose leaf can be expensive too!), maple syrup, and non-dairy milks. but the list could go on and on and on!


Pam Striker July 8, 2009 at 9:15 am

I love all health foods, but they can be pricy.

Peanut butter or all nut butters
Amazing Grass
Green Tea
Raw vitamins, etc.



Michelle Gay July 8, 2009 at 9:16 am

I am glad that you liked the article. I thought it was interesting.

I hate having to buy organic food. Its SO expensive here. Since I was in Timor..they only ate organic and/or free range becuase they couldn’t afford fertilizer. Man…five mandarins for a dollar. Organic coconuts for 50 cents.

That drives me crazy coming back to Oz.


Katie H July 8, 2009 at 9:18 am

Hemp Milk!!!!


Emily (A Nutritionist Eats) July 8, 2009 at 9:26 am

coconut oil and almond butter for sure…but I can’t live without them….I’m hoping that I finally have time tonight to make a batch of your cookies!!!


Sarah W. July 8, 2009 at 9:26 am

http://health.yahoo.com/experts/eatthis/33979/8-perfect-fitness-foods/ – This is a yahoo article from today on the best “fitness foods” – it sort of goes along with your post!


Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope July 8, 2009 at 9:27 am

Very neat interview! I actually never heard about the “gulping” water either. I guess I figured it would be worse to do that since our body probably couldn’t take in all that liquid at once. But I suppose it does have its benefits too! :)

MaraNatha Raw Almond Butter. Crazy expensive, but SOOOOO worth it!



Leila July 8, 2009 at 9:34 am

I’m glad you said bagged tea. I thought I was the only one that thought they were so over charging for them. I was shocked when I first realized how much cheaper loose leaf really is.


britt July 8, 2009 at 9:38 am

definitely almond butter, larabars, and amy’s anything. i live on mostly fruits and veggies so those aren’t too expensive (most of the time) but adding these things into the mix always makes my grocery bill shoot up so high.

also, i loved the first thing you mentioned – think of food as your inner equipment. when i am running or doing a really tough workout, i talk myself through it by reminding myself how i have fueled my body to do that workout. i go through the different healthy meals i’ve eaten in my head and it gets me through the tough workout every time.


Christina July 8, 2009 at 9:42 am

There are so many health foods I love but are pretty expensive: Nut butters (besides pb), chia seeds, Adora calcium supplements, coconut milk/ice cream, agave nectar/maple syrup, healthy cereals, steel cut oats, wild rice… The list goes on!


april July 8, 2009 at 9:42 am

Pretty much everything I eat is expensive! Larabars, Sunshine Burgers, greek yogurt, tea, and other baking ingredients like spelt flour, tvp, etc.

Thanks for posting that interview.. I’m having trouble finding out the right pre workout snacks for me! What are your favorites?


andrea. July 8, 2009 at 9:47 am

Most of mine have been said too … organic produce, and meats/fish, greek yogurt, almond butter, etc. Raw nuts too, which is weird, because you’d think the roasted would be more expensive since roasting would ADD an extra step to the production. Ah, agri-biz…you so crazy!


Meredith (Pursuing Balance) July 8, 2009 at 9:49 am

Thanks for the tips!


andrea. July 8, 2009 at 9:49 am

Oh yeah, and I meant to mention — I actually find the green monster makes a great pre-workout snack for me. It takes care of (some of) the hydration, and the carbs/sugar from the fruit give me energy. I have to have it about an hour before I work out though, otherwise I’m too full.


elliebelle July 8, 2009 at 9:58 am

I definitely hear you on the almond butter and Yogi tea. I also want to buy organic spinach for my green monsters, but I just can’t justify the price….Uggg…I know, I really should, but you get 1/4 of the amount for the same price as a regular huge bag of spinach!


brandi July 8, 2009 at 10:13 am

looks like you guys had a busy day!

i hate that almond butter is so expensive, but I CAN Make my own so I should do that more often.


brandi July 8, 2009 at 10:14 am

oh and greek yogurt!!! we don’t have a Trader Joe’s here so the only kinds I can get are FAge and Oikos which are rarely on sale.


Brandi C. July 8, 2009 at 10:19 am

-Veggie Burgers
-Organic Produce and Ground Turkey Breast
-Greek Yogurt
-http://www.lydiasorganics.com/ (loveTheLemonGingerBar!)
(loveTheBananaBreadBar and Almost everything else)
On the other hand I love how inexpensive I can get
-My Old Fashion Oats, Oatbran, Barley, Coucous, and other grains
-Canned pumpkin
-Raw Nuts and seed (except Walnuts, Pistachios, and Cashews bc their ALWAYS high)
-And I almost ALWAYS buy Larabars by the box and use coupons for my Kashi Goods/Catch them on sale Buy 1 GEt 1 Free at Publix =]
[I like to the that they help balance eachother out. A HAPPY MEDIUM!]


Danielle C. July 8, 2009 at 10:27 am

I agree with your list of health foods that are expensive, let me add Greek yogurt (I wish my Costco would sell it, I eat it every day). Especially organic produce and meats (I am a total Carnivore).

But I guess on the flip side, there are some things I love that are inexpensive (oats, brown rice). I recently found organic quinoa at my local Costco and scored a big bag for $10. I love this stuff.


Heather July 8, 2009 at 10:29 am

After being a lurking reader, I finally took the Green Monster plunge… :)


My favorite item would be Organic Milk, I think it tastes so much better, but it’s so much more expensive!


Bree July 8, 2009 at 10:32 am

-Greek yogurt. I still buy mass quantities of Fage 0% despite its cost.
-any natural nut butters
-agave nectar
-lean organic meats
-Larabars, sometimes Kashi bars but they now carry my fave kind at Costco
-Amazing Grass – this is a recent addition…I am addicted to the Amazing Meal!


Lizzie July 8, 2009 at 10:38 am

Kashi cereal -I love it but it’s hardly ever on special. However I have learned to look at it as an investment in myself. I mean it would be much worse if I was eating cookies or cake everyday, right? :)

Peanut butter on half a wholemeal bagel with a banana is my usual pre-race snack. It’s portable and has all the energy factors in there!


Coley July 8, 2009 at 10:44 am

Love this interview, thanks a lot for sharing! I am just about to graduate and am studying dietetics, and I want to do something in sports nutrition, so I may have to pick up some of her books. It was very interesting to me!

I would have to say organic milk, almond butter, greek yogurt and chia seeds!!


Jodie July 8, 2009 at 10:44 am

Greek yogurt, agave nectar, Amy’s products among many others. They need to start offering coupons for these products.


MarathonVal July 8, 2009 at 10:50 am

I swear, in downtown Chicago ALL health food products seem to be expensive. One thing that comes to mind is almond milk – I wish it came in bigger sizes, I hate that I am paying money for packaging and that it is SO much more $$ than soy milk, and even more so compared to regular cow’s milk! They make it so hard to be healthy sometimes!


Jess July 8, 2009 at 11:08 am

Foods prices just keep rising! And it’s mostly the healthy foods. My list: organic/all natural peanut butter, organic/ raw/etc almond butter, tea, produce, and about a billion other things. Haha. Great post!
<3 jess


Marcia July 8, 2009 at 11:22 am

Hmmm…the eating and drinking before a workout is good, and I notice the difference on the weekend.

But mid-week, I am at the gym 2x a week at 5:30 am and the alarm only goes off at 5. So there’s no food or drink in there at all. When I was working with a trainer at 6 am, I would try to eat a banana first.

I do drink water during my workout (you inspired me to do some cross training, and now I do 15 mins hard cardio, then a weight circuit, 15 more mins cardio, weight circuit, takes an hour and isn’t boring!)

I also don’t eat within 15 mins of finishing because I shower first. But definitely within 30.


Krista July 8, 2009 at 11:23 am

Another great post! I was just commenting to a fellow gym goer yesterday that I don’t think I drink enough water before my runs at lunch sometimes because there are days were I feel like I could just die of exhaustion!

A few things I HATE the price of are,

*Artisana products
*hemp seeds/chia seeds
*Medjool Dates
*goat cheese
*Some bagged tea…Mighty tea Leaf for example
*pure maple syrup

The list could go on for much longer, but I’ll spare you the rant! :)


Susan July 8, 2009 at 11:30 am

My sister sent me that article yesterday! The “gulping” water thing struck me too, since I have a camelbak, I usually sip away during runs.

Organic dairy and low/no sodium stuff!! There’s this one brand of low-sodium organic pressed cottage cheese that is $8 a package. That’s ridiculous.


Maggie July 8, 2009 at 11:46 am

Personally I feel that all foods that are considered to be healthy are overpriced whether it be organic produce, vegan foods (which I personally find annoying), cereal, bread, etc.
I think they’ve all got it backwards, shouldn’t we be encouraged to eat healthier? I’ll never understand why the government is willing to subsidize meat, but doesn’t help out with healthy foods, i’m pretty sure more people would be willing to eat these foods if they were cheaper. Just my 2 cents :)


Heather July 8, 2009 at 11:59 am

Anything gluten free!!! Any gluten free flour too! (like sorghum, amaranth… I need to take a loan to bake!)

Raw nuts

Green cleaning products

It’s hard to be earth conscious and healthy and not break the bank!


EatingRD July 8, 2009 at 12:36 pm

I read that article too! I’m not so sure about the gulping part either, I always get stomach cramps, but maybe it’s consistent gulping, not just random that helps with gastric emptying. I think I eat too much peanut butter lol
I hate how expensive bars are, greek yogurt, organic milk, hemp seeds, nuts, wild alaskan salmon (I really hate this one!) I’m sure there are many many more :)


Cait (Cait's Plate) July 8, 2009 at 1:41 pm

DEFINITELY almond butter!! The organic stuff is like $18 a jar!! It’s so upsetting – I wish that stuff wasn’t so good!

My boyfriend ordered Chia Seeds from amazon and they were only $10.95! It’s a HUGE bag considering you don’t need to use much of them! Here’s the link: (http://www.amazon.com/Navitas-Naturals-Seeds-Aztec-Superfood/dp/B001CGTN1I/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=grocery&qid=1247074853&sr=8-2)

Good luck!!


Chloe July 8, 2009 at 2:26 pm

The food products that I find to be the most expensive are the healthiest ones. Even produce can be expensive, and organic milk and meat is definitely high up there! My boyfriend has diet restrictions so he eats tons of natural peanut butter for good fat, as well as more protein than me so we spend our money on that. I’m happy to spend it on high quality items without added hormones or antibiotics, I just hve to choose carefully.

I’ll have to try Chia seeds, everyone keeps raving about them so they must be good.


[email protected] July 8, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Interesting Q&A!

I always splurge on organic heirloom tomatoes. I could eat them all day long, but they are sooo expensive, even now when it’s peak season!


N.D. July 8, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Funny you mentioned Amy’s – I just bought them. They are ok, defnitely more costly than other veggie burgers and overrated I think too! I agree w/ your list of overpriced items.


Ruth (Plentiful Plants) July 8, 2009 at 7:22 pm

I was shocked to see one day that chia seeds are $20/lb at the bulk barn! They’re $11/lb in most health food stored downtown, and $8/lb in the bulk food store in the basement of St. Lawrence Market. I think you should send Eric on a chia hunting mission after work :)


kasondra July 8, 2009 at 7:33 pm

i hate how expensive bars are!! all convenient foods are more expensive.


kasondra July 8, 2009 at 7:34 pm

oh and canned soups


Kim July 8, 2009 at 8:46 pm

I have to eat gluten-free, so lots of the specialty items I eat are $$. I try to eat healthy, naturally gluten-free foods to keep cost down, but those aren’t always cheaper.

I love almond butter, but it is $$. Love chia cereal, but again, $$! Also love Pure bars, but they are $$, too!


Still Life in South America July 8, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Angela, I can’t tell you how apropos this post is for me. I have been underfueling out of fear of nausea during my workout. But when I do two classes in a row, I definitely haven’t been getting enough to eat. Today I felt so weak I had to stop.

Thanks for sharing these tips!


Krista July 9, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Angela, I just bought a HUGE tub of chia seeds at costco for about eight bucks, they also have cases of clif bars and lara bars, cheap spinach, artisanal rye bread and this awesome individually packed greens and berry antioxidant powder that I take to work with me. I used to talk about how much I hated big box stores but you save a lot shopping at costco!


Ashley July 30, 2009 at 10:47 am

I know this is a really old post.. but as for the Kashi cereal. I live in Canada (Vancouver) and buy Kashi Go Lean and it goes on sale for $3.99 at Superstore (which is the same as Loblaws) and at Save On Foods. I’ve seen the big box of Go Lean Crunch on sale for $4.79 at Superstore before too (though that was really cheap).


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