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Nutritional Timing: Fuel Yourself Right

December 12, 2013

Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman, creator of the Vega Sport line, and works with athletes ranging from Tour de France cyclist to the NFL, dial in their nutrition and fueling needs. Now we're passing his advice on what to eat and when to eat it on to you. NUTRITIONAL TIMING: WHEN YOU EAT IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS WHAT YOU EAT What’s the difference between average and breakthrough athletic performance? Careful considerations of the foods and supplements one uses before, during and after training. Here are some basic guidelines to consider: Before A Workout The most important factor in a pre-exercise snack is digestibility. If the food eaten shortly before a training session requires a large amount of energy to digest, it will leave the body with less energy—the last thing you want before exercise. Also, eating too much protein right before intense exercise may result in muscle cramping, since protein requires more fluid to be metabolized than carbohydrate or fat. Use protein to build muscle, not to fuel it. For short bouts of high-intensity exercise, fuel up on simple carbohydrates that deliver both quick and prolonged energy(1). Fruits like dates offer a good source of glucose, which goes straight to the liver for immediate energy. Fructose, has a lower glycemic index than glucose, which means it kicks in at a slower rate once consumed and burns more slowly, which prolongs its effectiveness. During A Session Sweat consists of water and electrolytes, both of which need to be replaced during exercise. A drink rich in electrolytes can help maintain smooth muscle contractions and energy levels. In exercise sessions exceeding two hours, consume easily digestible nutrients as well, about every 25 minutes. As mentioned earlier, the combination of glucose- and fructose-rich foods, (in the form of an energy bar or gel), makes for an excellent quick-energy, endurance-boosting fuel(1). Recovery Recovering from your workouts is a complex process that involves how—and when—you nourish your body. Consider the following six key elements in your post-workout recovery nutrition: Muscle glycogen replenishment, muscle tissue repair and protein synthesis Hormonal support Soft-tissue repair Immune function Inflammation reduction Rehydration The right combination of nutrients consumed immediately following exercise—especially carbohydrates and protein (in a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio), plus healthy fats, vitamins and minerals—found through nutrient-dense, plant-based sources and accompanied by quality rest, offers you a distinct, faster-recovery athletic advantage. In particular, quality protein is far more important than quantity. A blended plant-based protein—for example, the combination of brown rice, pea and hemp—is a high-quality protein choice that is also alkaline-forming. *************************************************** Brendan Brazier is the creator the Vega Sport line and recognized as one of the world's foremost authorities on plant-based performance nutrition, Brendan works with NFL, MLB, NHL, UFC, PGA, Tour De France, and Olympic athletes and is a guest lecturer at Cornell University, where he presents an eCornell module entitled "The Plant-Based Diet and Elite Athleticism." Read more from Brendan, here.