With our high altitude and dry climate, most exercise enthusiasts know it's vital to rehydrate when working out.

"Drink every 15 minutes during your workout," said Dave Burgess, head coach of Podium Training Systems, which trains swimmers and triathletes.

It's also vital to refuel - more frequently than you might think. He talked about this at his recent cooking class, Plant-Based Diet for Athletes.

"For shorter workouts, 45 minutes or less, you most likely don't need to worry about refueling immediately," he said. "Just have your regularly next-scheduled meal."

But if you're doing a long workout, you need to have what Burgess calls a recovery meal plan.

"Working out an hour or more with higher intensity, you need to begin a refueling process within an hour of completing your workout," he said.

Said Jessica Seaton, a chiropractic orthopedist in Los Angeles, "Exercise breaks down muscle protein while decreasing protein synthesis. It also depletes glycogen, which is what the muscles use for energy. You need to replenish glycogen, which consists of glucose molecules, Insulin is a hormone that enables the muscles' cells to absorb glucose, to build glycogen, and amino acids used to build muscle protein, while decreasing the breakdown of muscle protein during the post-exercise period."

Burgess says, "Keeping your blood sugar levels even and balanced is key."

Essentially you don't want to drain your energy storage.

"You need to replenish everything you've burned during your workout," he said.

During the class, he prepared two recipes for replenishing: a recovery smoothie and an endurance cake.

"A smoothie is easier to digest fast since it's liquid," he said. "It has everything you need to recover after your workout: coconut water for electrolytes and flax seeds for omega fats. It could be a meal."

You also can add Vegan Smart Protein Powder in the smoothie for a protein boost.

"You can get it at Walmart," said JL Fields, Burgess' wife, who developed the recipe and helped him during the class. She owns Colorado Springs Vegan Cooking Academy and is a vegan cookbook author.

The endurance cake is made with sweet brown rice, part of a carbohydrate-rich, post-workout meal that Burgess recommends. It also has liquid aminos for increased energy.

"The rice cake recipe is adapted from a recipe from Allen Lim," he said. "They are vegan, not your regular Clif Bar. Instead of walnuts you can substitute pistachios, which are high in protein."

Lim is a sports physiologist who's worked with many top professional cyclists.

Finally, Burgess recommends eating a vegetable protein-rich meal in the morning.

"It stays with you," he said. "Eat less protein as the day goes by."

Interested in learning more about vegan diets for athletes? Burgess' next class, "Competition Week Cooking: Fueling Up on Plants, From Taper to Race Day to Post-race Recovery," is at 7 p.m. May 22. Visit CSVeganCooking.com to register.

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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