Eat this way! Endurance-based exercise such as running, cycling, and swimming is typically performed at a moderate intensity, which means, to get the most out of every workout, you’ll need slightly more calories than you were before getting your cardio on. According to Marie Spano, C.S.S.D., C.S.C.S., sports nutritionist for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, a good way to estimate your daily energy needs is to first multiply your body weight in pounds by 17. That equals, roughly, how many calories you burn on days you sweat it out. (So, for a 150-pound woman, that’s 2,550 calories per day.) Next, subtract 250 to 500 calories to come up with a caloric goal that will allow you to maintain caloric deficit (a.k.a. burn more calories per day than you’re taking in, a requisite for weight loss).
In terms of where to get those carbs, Spano recommends eating eight to 10 grams of carbohydrates and 1 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. For the same 150-pound woman, that works out to 544 to 680 grams of carbs and 68 to 109 grams of protein per day.
Why so many carbs? Well, even though the body tends to rely more on fat than carbs for energy during lower-intensity, longer-duration cardio sessions, carbs still provide a lot of the get-up-and-go you need, says Kelly Pritchett, Ph.D., R.D.N., C.S.S.D., assistant professor of nutrition and exercise science at Central Washington University, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Great pre-workout options include a turkey and Swiss sandwich with a banana or some plain Greek yogurt with strawberries and a handful of walnuts.
During your workout, aim to drink seven to 10 ounces of fluids every 10 to 20 minutes. If you’re exercising for longer than one hour, consider also replenishing your carb stores mid-workout with gels, sport drinks, honey packets, or whole foods that are easy to carry and digest, Pritchett says. Bananas, orange slices, and homemade rice cakes will all help get the job done.
This easy water bottle hack will help you stay properly hydrated every single day:
Best Weight Loss Meal Plan For Your Workout