What to Eat for Your Workout

(CNN) — Before running a half marathon last year, Gouthami Rao consulted a dietitian to create the best diet for her training.

“Striking a bigger balance between carbs and protein, which I think is a huge battle for pretty much everybody when they eat,” Rao said.

So why do protein and carbs pack the right punch for a good workout?

“With exercise our bodies are constantly breaking down and need to be repaired and protein helps do that. Carbohydrate is the fuel for our bodies, fuel for our brain. We need to have it to some extent before the workout, sometimes during and after the workout,” said Carol Kelly, a dietitian at Emory University.

If you’re exercising first thing in the morning for an hour or less, you can delay breakfast. But if you’re working out later in the day, load up on carbs and protein for lunch. Eat a combination of protein and carbs within 30 to 40 minutes post work out. But experts say limit protein: 10 to 20 grams, or a palm-sized piece of chicken, is enough.

And eat fruits and veggies. They help mop up the damage done during exercise.

If your workout lasts more than an hour, you may need to refuel with a sports beverage or gel during your workout.

“The goal for me is just to make the whole process an enjoyable experience. I really want to work towards doing another half marathon,” Rao said.

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