Training vs. Non-training Days: Nutrition

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Written By: Heather Gerrish, MS, RDN

What we choose to eat and focus on during intense bouts of training is essential - but what about non-training days? What’s this about “recovery nutrition” and how can you use this to your advantage on not only intense training days, but off days and seasons too? This blog will review what to watch for and plan when considering your training schedule to maximize your fueling and recovery practices, as well as how to maintain a sustainable nutrition practice through training seasons! 

Training days

This is where recovery and fueling counts! Maximizing how and when you fuel and recover can help you not only feel ready to take on your next workout, but help your body rebuild and refuel your energy stores to keep you going and energized to take on the day!

Here are the key concepts to remember when focusing about fueling for training/in season:

Pre-workout - focus on simple carbohydrates, something that you can tolerate well and is not going to weigh you down. For example, focusing on ~15 grams of carbohydrates is often one of the standards used for “quick energy/fueling” prior to training. You also want to consider timing, to ensure that you are not making your digestive system work overtime to breakdown and use the fuel you are providing it too close to your actual workout. Aim for no less than 30 minutes before.

After a workout plan to consume either a snack if your next meal will not be for more than 1-2 hours, or if you are planning to consume a balanced meal soon after finishing your workout - ensure that either option include the following":

  • Lean source of protein

  • Complex carbohydrate source (complex = think fiber! ex: whole grains)

Aim for a 4:1 or 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio for your meal, focusing first on your carbohydrate source to provide your body with the fuel it needs to replace the energy stores you burned during exercise (and protein to help repair and rebuild muscle tissue!)

Take Away for Training Days: 15 grams of simple carbohydrates (ex. applesauce) no less than 30 minutes before a workout + 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of complex carbohydrates : lean protein

Non-training Days

Take advantage of your nutrition practice on your off days to try different combos and provide your body with the recovery fuel it needs to get you back out training and performing at your best. 

Recovery 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein (grams) to optimize recovery post workout, intentional timing (window of 30 minutes after training) + hydration -> (ex. 1 slice whole grain toast + cheese stick). Maximize and try out new combos/recipes during off days to best prepare and plan for what you can implement during your high intensity workouts!

Take Away for non-training: meet your estimated needs, focusing on protein and balance while prepping your body for training. Create your sustainable practice and implementing structure you enjoy - finding balance in the “off” as much as during the “on” seasons and days of training and varied intensity. Focus on recovery snack/meal as close to your end of session as possible, and if you are consuming a meal prioritize whole grains (carbohydrate source) + protein (baked chicken, salmon, bean burger etc.)

As you focus and continue to develop your workout routine, adapt and conquer your nutrition routine as well! Trial and error are a part of learning, so what better time than the present to try and attempt new nutrition ideas as well! Recovery and fueling are two components you have control over to help you progress through your training and fuel your body to perform! Don’t miss out on these great opportunities! 

Heather Gerrish