runnersFifteen years ago I was preparing for my first marathon, putting in 70-plus miles per week to get ready for race day. While I had a clear plan for roadwork, I didn’t really have a nutritional plan other than loading up on carbs the week before the race. Dutifully, I ate plates of pasta. My ignorance was bliss. (I love pasta!) Not only did I finish the marathon, I won my age group!

Sports nutrition is much more sophisticated now. Whereas I concentrated on eating before the race, the American College of Sports Medicine says, “Adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize exercise performance, and improve recovery time. Athletes should be well hydrated before exercise and drink enough fluid during and after exercise to balance fluid losses.”

The American Heart Association offers guidelines for fueling one’s body before, during and after workouts and competitions.

Before: Fuel Up! Not eating before a workout, game or race is like driving a car on banana-1024x679empty. Ideally, fuel up two hours before you exercise by hydrating with water (not coffee), eating healthy carbs such as whole-grain cereals with low-fat or skim milk, whole-wheat toast, low-fat or fat-free yogurt, whole grain pasta, brown rice, fruits and vegetables. Avoid saturated fats and even healthy protein as these foods digest more slowly and take away oxygen and energy-delivering blood from muscles. It’s far better to eat easily digestible carbs like an apple or banana to fuel up without getting sluggish.

During: Make a Pit Stop. During your workout or competition, stay hydrated with frequent intake of water. If your workout is less than an hour, you don’t need to eat. However, longer, more intense workouts such as a marathon or tennis match may require you to consumer simple carbs such as raisins, a banana or energy bar.

After: Refuel Your Tank. Post workout it’s time to think of recovery and re-building muscles. First, drink water to rehydrate and flush out your body. Second, eat protein to repair and grow muscles. Third, replenish your energy stores with protein and carbs. This way you’ll be ready for your next workout or competition.

Here’s where I am going to go rogue on you. I suggest adding nutrition-packed Thrive Ice Cream to your “food is fuel” regime. Thrive was specifically designed as a functional food. While it is a real premium ice cream product, it also delivers superior nutrition athletes need. A four ounce serving contains six grams of protein; 24 vitamins and minerals, including A, B6, B12, C, D and potassium; four active probiotics for digestive and immune health; four grams of fiber; and no artificial ingredients. Thrive is also certified kosher, gluten-free and Real Dairy.

Eating Thrive Ice Cream post-workout has tremendous benefits. It stimulates muscle growth and repair, replenishes glycogen stores, helps prevent muscle cramps and spasms, decreases muscle soreness, and improves overall recovery time. And, both the regular and no sugar added flavors taste great and doesn’t have the “off” flavor processed energy and protein bars sometimes have.

Fueling your body before, during and after workouts is critical to performance, regardless of your activity or sport, whether competitive or just a personal choice of fitness. Eat well, workout often, and try nutritious Thrive Ice Cream.

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