Fueling for Fitness
By Bonnie Pfiester, Fitness Trainer
Fueling up for fitness is the key to success.
Choosing the right fuel for a workout depends on the workout you’re fueling up for. It’s like fueling up a car. The fuel used for drag racing is totally different than fuel used for Nascar. Dragsters just need to get to the finish line as fast as possible, which is only about a thousand feet away. Nascar fuel needs to help you go fast, steady and strong so you can go the distance. In many ways the same principles apply to fitness.
Fueling up for fitness and weight loss can be very different. For instance, if you need to make it through an intense workout, like weight training or a boot camp style class, you’ll need something that can power you through your entire workout. Lifting a weight or powering a jump requires blood sugar readily available.
Unfortunately, if you choose the wrong fuel or don’t to fuel up at all you’ll end up broken down on the side of road for sure. Every time someone falls out in boot camp or weight training it’s because someone either didn’t’ eat – or didn’t eat right. A sugary Slim Fast drink or a 100 Calorie breakfast bar won’t last 15 minutes through intense training. That’s like putting dragster fuel in a Nascar. It’s simply not made to go the distance.
A dragster can go through more than twenty gallons of top fuel from warm-up to finish line. The same thing happens when you fuel up with high-processed foods or foods high in sugar– you simply burn through it too quickly. Once your body uses it all up, your blood sugar drops, leaving you dizzy, light-headed and often nauseous.
You need a fuel source that will help you go the distance. Low Glycemic foods like oatmeal, long grain rice, quinoa, squash, nuts and many vegetables take longer for the body to break down, releasing glucose more slowly and steadily. This means a steady and reliable energy source for your workout.
On the other hand, a fat-burning workout doesn’t require the same fuel source for energy. Of matter of fact, you want to force your body to use fat stores for energy instead of food. Since low-impact aerobics, jogging and walking don’t require instant power, you can wait for your body to make the blood sugar needed to keep you moving. Much like a hybrid, you can use stored up energy, or fat stores, for fuel.
When it comes to fueling up for fitness, choosing the right fuel for the right exercise is key to success. Now that you’re all fueled up, like Darrel Waltrip says, “Boogity, boogity, boogity! Let’s go racin’ boys!”
You are invited to leave your fitness and sports nutrition questions in the comments below for Bonnie to briefly answer or write about in future articles.