Fueling for Fitness

by in Bonnie Pfiester, Exercise, Kitchen Sink, Sports Nutrition October 24, 2008

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!”


bonniefit.jpgBonnie Pfiester is a Personal Trainer, wife to the famous fitness trainer Steve Pfiester of the reality TV show “Fat March”, and owner of the women’s health club Longevity Fitness.

You can enjoy more of Bonnie’s fitness and beauty articles at or here at the kitchen table by visiting the Bonnie Pfiester page.

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.

  1. This is a fantastic article. I get asked questions about this sort of thing all the time. One of my personal favorite fuel foods is nuts – specifically almonds, walnuts and pecans. Peanuts are not nuts they are legumes, thus the “pea” nut.

    Stephen’s last blog post..Intelligence and Achieving What You Want in Life

  2. Hi Stephen…I agree peanuts are not a NUT! Lol…all other nuts are fantastic sources of protein when raw. Raw nuts and nut butters are fantastic choices for athletes.

  3. I’m a fan of oats. I think having porridge for breakfast keeps you going all morning. Also bananas are a great energy food. You may have noticed that most tennis players eat them in-between sets.

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