Tabata workouts burn tremendous amounts of calories — 13.5 calories per minute during Tabata and a significant increase in metabolism post-workout. Here are a few tips on how to fuel for your intense Tabata workout:
Hydration is key during any exercise, but especially during an intense workout like Tabata.
Avoid large meals and “new to you” foods at least two hours prior to the workout. When we exercise intensely, blood is directed away from the stomach and into the muscles that are moving the body. Depending on your experience, fitness level and digestive cycle, this could cause stomach cramps, diarrhea or bloating.
Carbs are the only fuel that the muscles can use for aerobic activity — you need to eat carbs in order to exercise. Some examples would be fruit (e.g., watermelon, oranges, bananas and melon); granola; pretzels or saltine crackers; Greek yogurt; or natural fruit juices diluted with water.
Don’t be afraid to try a cold snack prior to your workout, especially if you will be exercising in a warm room or outside. Popsicles or lightly sweetened (check the ingredients and keep the chemicals to a minimum) icy treats help the body to cool prior to a workout. Cooling the body prior to a session will allow more blood to stay in the muscles, sending less to the skin so an athlete’s heart rate remains lower, allowing for greater workout capacity and endurance!
Remember to refuel and rehydrate. For sessions that last an hour or longer, look for a sports drink like Gatorade. The ideal recovery ratio is a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Three great examples are a turkey sandwich, wheat bread with almond butter, and Greek yogurt with honey or fruit.
Julie Erickson is the owner of Endurance Pilates & Yoga in Arlington, Mass., and creator of Barre Boston.