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Nutrition for Exercise & Fitness


Water makes up 50-60% of our bodies.  It plays an important role in cell function, nutrient transportation, waste product elimination, body temperature regulation, blood circulation, and digestion.  The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. However, exercise can lead to substantial water loss and can require an increase in consumption of water. Follow these guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine.


  • Check your hydration status before exercise because there is a wide variability in fluid needs for each person.
  • Drink 16-20 fluid ounces of water or sports beverage at least four hours before exercise.
  • Drink 8-12 fluid ounces of water 10 – 15 minutes before exercise. Consuming a beverage with sodium (salt) and/or small meal helps to stimulate thirst and retain fluids.


  • Drink 3-8 fluid ounces of water every 15 – 20 minutes when exercising for less than 60 minutes.
  • Drink 3-8 fluid ounces of a sports beverage (5-8 percent carbohydrate with electrolytes) every 15-20 minutes when exercising greater than 60 minutes.
  • Do not drink more than one quart/hour during exercise.


  • Obtain your body weight and check your urine to estimate your fluid losses. The goal is to correct your losses within two hours after exercise.
  • Drink 20-24 fluid ounces of water or sports beverage for every one pound lost.

Fuel Your Fitness

A balanced, healthy diet will  meet the nutrient needs of most people who exercise.  If you are a competitive athlete or long distance runner, a consultation with a sports dietitian can give you a more personalized plan to optimize your performance.  A snack with both carbohydrates (for fuel) and protein (to repair and rebuild your muscles) can give you   additional fuel for your workouts.  See some options below from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Pre-workout fuel

  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread
  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • Oatmeal with low-fat milk and fruit
  • Apple and peanut or almond butter
  • Handful of nuts and raisins – 2 parts raisins to 1 part nuts

Post-workout fuel

  • Smoothie with low fat milk and fruit
  • Low fat chocolate milk
  • Turkey on a whole grain wrap with vegetables
  • Yogurt with berries