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Nutrition Needs Before and After Exercise

Info: 2662 words (11 pages) Nursing Essay
Published: 11th Feb 2020

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Tagged: nutritionexercise

Robert-John Santos 

Executive Summary

Over the past few years, I have noticed a culture change in terms of being healthy. It is represented in social media and public platforms of how more and more people are focused on taking care of their bodies by participating in physical activity. Examples of this are people posting pictures of themselves at the gym or what they are doing to keep their body healthy. But despite this entire obsession of taking care of our bodies, are people actually doing the right things to stay physically fit? Besides the fad of exercising and workout techniques, there are other factors to being healthy. One important factor is proper dietary consumption. What people eat has a huge impact on their body both short and long term. With the current trend of being a fitness buff, people are not aware of the importance of proper dietary intake before and after a workout. Many people make the mistake that what they eat before, during, and after exercise is important when they should actually be paying attention to the amount their body needs. In addition, it is common for these people to be confused about what they should consume to enhance performance and fitness to reach body weight goals. The main issue is that a lot of people that exercise are not meeting the dietary requirements and recommendations that their body must have in order to live a healthy lifestyle.

Needs Before and After Exercise


No matter the intensity of the exercise or the duration, proper nutrition is still an overlooked by many people who exercise regularly. For example, in the article “Acute effects of exercise on energy intake and feeding behavior” by Pascal Imbeault, Sylvie Saint-Pierre, Natalie Almeras, and Angelo Tremblay, they hypothesized that short-term high-intensity exercise causes a suppressing effect on the amount that someone would consume compared to low-intensity exercise. The result of the study was that energy intake was lower after high-intensity than low-intensity. Based on the result of the study, this could promote significant negative energy balance, which is not healthy long term (Imbeault, 1997). In order to address this issue, people who exercise regularly need to be educated on the importance of following specific dietary recommendations.

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Recommended Action

A number of solutions could be implemented such as some type of treatment or a change in how health is being advertised and how it is very important to eat healthy. According to the article “Fueling for fitness: Food and fluid recommendations for before, during and after exercise” by Nanna L. Meyer, Melinda M. Manore, and Jacqueline Berning, the community of people who participate in exercising regularly need to consider visiting health professionals who specialize in the field of nutrition; specifically a sports dietitian or certified specialist in dietetics. These exercise enthusiasts need to realize that even though they believe that can take care of themselves, it does not hurt to get input from people who spent their lives studying the subject of nutrition. In addition to seeking advice from health professionals, another solution could be provided from local sport clubs and commercial gyms by aggressively promoting a meal plan that their gym members can follow in order to sustain health.

Solution Implementation

As mentioned before, one of the first steps that can be made to solve this problem is to seek advice from a sports dietitian or a certified specialist in sports dietetics (Meyer et al., 2012). This first step is important because both of these health professionals can offer specific recommendations to their client’s nutrient and energy needs, fitness goals, and weight sustainability. For example, from the article “Nutrition and athletic performance” by Nancy R. Rodriguez, Nancy M. DiMarco, and Susie Langley, these registered dietitians make recommendations of what people should be eating before, during, and after exercise. Before exercise, they recommend some sort of snack or meal that would: help to maintain hydration, be low in fat and high in carbohydrates to maximize maintenance of blood glucose, and not contain too much protein (Rodriguez et al., 2010). During exercise, it is suggested that people should aim to replace lost fluid and to provide carbohydrates to sustain blood glucose levels (Rodriguez et al., 2010). After exercise, a person’s meal should consist of sufficient fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates to guarantee recovery, and protein to repair muscle tissue (Rodriguez et al., 2010). In addition to dietary goals after exercise, carbohydrates in particular, people need to have a carbohydrate intake during the first 30 minutes after working out and again every two hours for about four to six hours to replace glycogen stores (Rodriguez et al., 2010). Other examples of dietary recommendations are mentioned in the article “You Asked: Should I Eat Before or After a Workout” by Markham Heid. He reports the importance of nutrition before and after a workout. To find the answer to this question, Heid asked the head of the department of nutrition at the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Nancy Cohen, and she mentions that dietary intake is the same for a majority of people who exercise. Dr. Cohen then adds on by saying that ‘“you’ll want to eat a meal high in carbs and protein and low in fat roughly three to four hours before you exercise; whether you’re trying to shed pounds or build muscle’” (Heid, 2014). Heid later describes that people who are looking to lose weight should avoid eating a meal with too many carbohydrates prior to exercising and should consume foods such as whole grains, beans, and fiber known as complex carbohydrates. Dr. Cohen later explains the importance of eating protein, during and after exercise, that has the amino acids that would replace the muscle cells that have been broken down from the workout (Heid, 2014). Lastly, for those who want to build muscle, Dr. Cohen recommends a diet with even more protein an hour or two as a post-workout meal. Furthermore, one of the factors that would interfere with proper dietary intake of an individual is not being properly educated. For example, many people associate fast food as unhealthy and bad for human health; but those people are unaware that fast food can actually be an option as a post workout meal. In the article “Post-exercise Glycogen Recovery and Exercise Performance is Not Significantly Different Between Fast Food and Sport Supplements” by Michael J. Cramer, Charles L. Dumke, Walter S. Hailes, John S. Cuddy, and Brent C. Ruby, these authors address the idea of eating fast food after exercising. Cramer et al. (2015) reports that studies have shown that fast food can actually be as effective typical post-workout meals such as protein shakes, supplements, or energy bars. He and his colleagues had 11 male athletes to participate in their experiment. For this study, the researchers had the participants to fast for four hours and then asked the athletes to exercise on a treadmill for about 90 minutes (Cramer et al., 2015). After the workout, half of the athletes were given typical post-workout meals such as Gatorade, chewable energy cubes, organic peanut butter and power bars while the other half were given food known to be provided by fast food restaurants such as Coke, fries, hamburgers, hashbrowns, and hotcakes (Cramer et al., 2015). About two hours later, the athletes had to ride on a stationary bike for 12.4 miles as quickly as possible. The athletes then repeated the experiment on the opposite diet a week after (Cramer et al., 2015). When the experiment was over, the results showed that glycogen blood levels were higher after eating fast food in comparison to eating healthy food and the athletes claimed that they did not feel any different after the experiment (Cramer et al., 2015). In general, the study does not encourage people to eat more fast food after a workout, but it is not bad to eat it once in a while.

Another solution for regular exercisers would be to follow some sort of meal plan that would list dietary recommendations that could be adopted by any lifestyle which would be provided by the sport dietitians, certified specialists in dietetics, and the commercial gyms that people would utilzing. For example, in the article “Rebuilding the pyramid: The government’s new food pyramid replaces “one size fits all” with a customizable eating and exercise plan,” it mentions the food pyramid that was introduced in 1992, which gives dietary advice for all ages and lifestyles. This food pyramid was later called “MyPyramid” in 2005 and a few changes to the original such as customizable to certain ages, gender, and activity level (“Rebuilding the,” 2005). In addition to what people should be eating, the meal plan would also list the benefits of certain foods so that they can be properly educated in dealing with nutrition and its relationship to health. This idea is presented in the article “Principles and issues in translating dietary recommendations to food selection: A nutrition educator’s point of view” by Helen A. Guthrie. In this article, Guthrie explains the importance of proper nutrition and that society should not overlook the significance of it. She describes that before they figure out whether or not they should change their dietary habits, people need to be educated on what dietary practices would be appropriate for their lifestyle (Guthrie, 1987).

Although some people are not meeting their proper dietary needs before, during, and after exercising, there are still some positives to this issue. One positive is that people are close to meeting the dietary intake that their body needs. In the article “Dietitian-Observed Macronutrient Intakes of Young Skill and Team-Sport Athletes: Adequacy of Pre, During, and Postexercise Nutrition” by Lindsay B. Baker, Lisa E. Heaton, Ryan P. Nuccio, and Kimberly W. Stein, the study focuses on proper nutrition practices and the amount of macronutrients that young athletes should incorporate into their diet. Participants consisted of about 22 males and 7 females ranging from ages of 14 to 19 years old. These participants were observed for a 24 hour period by registered dietitians at a sports training facility and the athletes were asked to report their dietary intake and their participation in team sports throughout the whole day. According to sports nutrition experts, athletes who participate in high- intensity exercise for about one hour should consume about one to four carbohydrates per kilogram before exercising, about 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour during exercise, and about one gram of carbohydrates per kilogram and hour and 20 to 25 grams of protein right after their workout is over (Baker et al., 2014). In terms of the results, the researchers found that before exercising, about 73% of the male participants and 57% of the female participants met the recommended amount of carbohydrates per kilogram. During exercise, 18% of the male participants and 29% of the female participants met the recommendations of carbohydrates per hour. After exercising, about 68% of carbohydrates per kilogram and 73% of protein for the males met the recommendations; while for the females, only 43% met the recommendations for both carbohydrates and protein about an hour after exercising (Baker et al., 2014). Although the carbohydrate and protein intake of the male athletes compared to the female athletes were somewhat closer to the recommendations, it is still a concern that they fell short of the optimal amount of carbohydrates recommended in order to fully thrive in overall health; but this can be considered as only a minor setback. In order to measure success, similar to this study, percentages would be recorded to see if progress has been made towards reaching dietary recommendations.


The solution mentioned before will be helpful to the community of people who participate in exercising regularly, sports dietitians, certified specialists in dietetics, and commercial gyms. All of these stakeholders have common goals: to ensure optimal health and to promote a healthy lifestyle. This issue is important to the sports dietitians and certified specialists because their job is to make sure that their patients are living a healthy lifestyle. As for the people who exercise regularly, this issue is important because it is about them and they care about being in good physical shape. Commercial gyms benefit from this solution because they would be providing these dietary meal plans that people should be following and this would be emphasizing the importance of overall health. The benefits are greater than the costs because people simply being advised to visit health professionals and directed to follow dietary recommendations that would allow them the regular exercisers to reach optimal health.


Baker, L., Heaton, L., Nuccio, R., & Stein, K. (2014, January 1). Dietitian-Observed

Macronutrient Intakes of Young Skill and Team-Sport Athletes: Adequacy of Pre,

During, and Postexercise Nutrition. Retrieved April 27, 2015, from



Cramer, M., Dumke, C., Hailes, W., Cuddy, J., & Ruby, B. (2015, February 5). Post-exercise

Glycogen Recovery and Exercise Performance is Not Significantly Different Between

Fast Food and Sport Supplements. Retrieved April 27, 2015, from


es_ijsnem_2014-0230-in press.pdf

Guthrie, H. (1987). Principles and issues in translating dietary recommendations to food

selection: A nutrition educator’s point of view”. Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://ajcn.nutrition.org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/content/45/5/1394.full.pdf html

Heid, M. (2014, September 17). You Asked: Should I Eat Before or After a Workout? Retrieved

April 10, 2015, from http://time.com/3387314/eat-before-or-after-workout/

Imbeault, P., Saint-Pierre, S., Almeras, N., & Tremblay, A. (1997). Acute effects of exercise on

energy intake and feeding behaviour. Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=/BJN/BJN77_04/S0007114597002109a.pdf&code=3c99ec6281ea343391f4e05f6aebbcf2

Meyer, N., Manore, M., & Berning, J. (2012, May 1). Fueling For Fitness: Food and Fluid

Recommendations for Before, During, and After Exercise. Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/ehost/detail/detail?sid=045b390b-eff9-470f-99c5 913b07ae220e@sessionmgr115&vid=0&hid=107&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ==#db=ccm&AN=2011588793


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