The timing and composition of meals consumed may play a role in optimizing performance, training adaptations and preventing overtraining. It takes about 3-4 hours for carbohydrate to be converted to muscle and liver glycogen. Thus pre exercise meals should be consumed about 3-4 hours before exercise. Research shows that ingesting a light carbohydrate and protein snack 30-60 mins before exercise, serves to increase the carbohydrate availability towards the end of an intense about of exercise. It also increases availability of amino acids during exercise, maintains insulin levels and reduces exercise induced catabolism.
When exercise lasts more than one hour, athletes should ingest glucose/electrolyte solutions to maintain blood glucose levels and prevent dehydration. Intense exercise also has an immune suppressive effect and taking glucose during exercise reduces this effect. Within 30 minutes of intensive exercise, athletes should consume carbohydrates and protein and also consume a high carbohydrate meal within 2 hours of exercise. This accelerates glycogen resynthesis and anabolic hormones which help in hastening recovery. Two to three days before the completion, athletes should taper training and consume 200-300g/day of extra carbohydrates. This helps in improving endurance exercise capacity.