What to eat and drink pre and post exercising?

fresh fruit

This is another question asked weekly.

There are many times I have had clients collapse or come close to collapsing during a training session. This is due to not fuelling their bodies properly before a training session. Think of it this way, would you try to drive to Sydney and expect to get there on half a tank of petrol?

You must make sure you have fuelled your body to get the most out of your training sessions. Whether you are training for weight loss, health, fat loss, or athletic gains, you need to have a nutritional strategy in place pre and post training. And most importantly hydration has to be included in this plan.

In order to train effectively you need to plan how long training will be, what time of the day and what intensity you’ll be training at. Then you need to plan a nutritional meal before this workout and also a recovery meal for optimal results. Meals should generally be a mix of carbohydrate for energy and protein for repair.

Rule of thumb when exercising begin your workout well nourished, but with your stomach basically empty. Pre exercise nutrition should leave your body well hydrated enough glycogen to see you through your session in the best possible condition. When glycogen is depleted, the body becomes fatigued. The amount of carbohydrate we consume influences how much glycogen is stored and the amount we need depends on our level of intensity in the workout and the time we are exercising for.

A piece of low GI fruit such as an orange or banana, a small tub of natural yoghurt, or a protein drink 30 minutes prior to exercise can stabilise energy levels and power the body through a 60 minute session. For a longer session say over an hour or in hotter conditions it is advisable to take some carbohydrate replacements such as gels, drinks like hydrolyte etc.

You must hydrate well before, during and after. 250ml before, sips of water during and 100ml for each 100g body weight lost during the workout needs to be replenished after.

Our body needs protein for repair after a workout and quality carbohydrates to replenish glycogen and electrolytes. Foods rich in potassium (avocado, quinoa, bananas, coconut milk, sweet potato) will help regulate fluid balance in the body, lower blood pressure and aid nerve and muscle contraction.

If you have several small meals with protein rich (containing between 10g and 25g of protein) throughout the day is the best strategy for optimum recovery and readiness for training. Good protein sources are fish, lean meats (game meats), low fat dairy, natural yoghurt, eggs, quinoa, nuts and seeds. Good carbohydrates are your vegetables and fruits, with ensuring a big variety across the board to ensure you cover many vitamin and minerals in your daily/weekly intake.

It’s best to have protein rich meal within 30 minutes of a workout, along with your hydration sources.

Always train smart, do not expect more from your body if you do not fuel it correctly and replenish it smartly.