People exercise for many reasons, but predominately it would be safe to say the majorities goal is to stay a healthy weight, prevent disease, encourage good sleep and improve the way our mind and body feel on a daily basis. Optimal health isn’t achieved with exercise alone though, we need to think of nutrition and exercise as a happily married couple, they are equally important to stay healthy and results will skyrocket when they work in balance together.
Knowing the best food to get the most out of your workout is a sure-fire way of making sure you stick to a good exercise routine and get the results you want. Dependent on the way you train, your nutritional needs may differ, so there is no one size fits all approach. For example, an endurance athlete is going to need more carbohydrates than a person having a quick weights session. All choices of exercise need to be assessed for their energy out and then you can make the right choices for your energy in.
The first step is to see whether your body actually tolerates having food inside your stomach during exercise, regularly writing a food and mood diary can be an easy way to observe this. There is no right or wrong, it’s simply an integral trial and error period to make sure you fuel yourself correctly. Like to be empty? Welcome to the fasted workout club! Ideally, your lifestyle allows you to exercise first thing in the morning, alternatively giving yourself at least 2-3 hours after a meal to give your stomach enough time to digest will help with feeling irritated by your digestive system during your workout. Remember, you still need to hydrate with water and if you endure a particularly heavy sweat session make sure to replenish lost electrolytes with pure coconut water or a minerals sachet supplementation. If you can tolerate some sustenance pre-workout I would suggest small predominantly carbohydrate foods, making sure to stay away from too many fats before intense exercise as they are likely to sit in the stomach and potentially cause nausea.
Pre-workout food suggestions
• Herbal tea
• Black coffee
• Wholegrain bread
• Fruit & Greek yoghurt
• Sweet potato
Many people still seem to think a drastic elimination of carbohydrates will help them reach an aesthetic body goal, but it typically isn’t a sustainable method or one that I would suggest as a professional nutritionist. Most of the carbohydrates we eat are converted to glucose, which is our main source of energy. When you exercise your muscles first port for fuel comes from your glycogen stores, once depleted the body may go on to burn fat for energy. Some proteins in your muscles are also broken down and damaged when you exercise be it cardio or resistance training. After your workout, you need to rebuild your glycogen stores and repair and regrow the muscle proteins, so it’s important to try to eat as soon as possible after exercise so your body can use the nutrients for recovery. Your body now needs a well-balanced mixture of all the macronutrients which include fats, carbs, and protein to fuel and replenish post-exercise.
Post-workout food suggestions
• Protein powder, nut butter, and oat shake
• Egg and avocado on toast
• Rice cake and cottage cheese
• Fish, sweet potato & green beans with almonds
• Tempeh cashew vegetable stir-fry with quinoa
Preparation is key, so planning your meals can help a great deal to stay on target with your goal. Try batch cooking on a Sunday or visit a nutritionist as it’s our job to make this as simple as possible to understand and you leave us with a plan of attack!