Eating Before and After Exercise

What to eat prior to training and what should we be eating in terms of fuel for the work out? How long before training do we eat?

Eating before exercise:

This will depend on the person as to how much and when they eat before exercise. For those that go to the 5am or 6am morning classes, depending what time you get out of bed will depend if you have enough time to eat something. Something as simple as half a banana can provide that little bit of extra energy, or even half a banana with a spoon of peanut butter. You will need to try this out to see if it works for you, as some people do get an upset tummy eating too close to exercising hard.

If you are very serious about your exercise and are wanting to go very hard at every session then eating beforehand is important, especially if you are an afternoon exerciser.

Ideally you want to eat 2-4 hours prior to a big exercise session/endurance session. This will help build up your glycogen levels to allow for a steady release of energy throughout and allow enough time for digestion to occur. When competing at a high level, this is important and athletes will trial this before the big event as well to ensure their timing and food choices are right for them. The idea here is to eat moderate protein, carbs and low fat.

Ideas of what you could eat:

2-4 hours prior

  • Chicken Salad Sandwich
  • Tuna Rice and Salad Bowl
  • Porridge
  • Jacket Potato, Beans and Salad
  • Homemade Granola and Yoghurt
  • Stirfry with Rice

Eating after exercise:

Now this is the most important thing you can do after a good session. You ideally need to eat a good meal within 30mins – 1 hour of finishing your session as your metabolism is very rapid and your body needs to recover. Muscles need to recover and strengthen, your glucose levels need to stabilise and you need to re-hydrate. Your absorption rate of food is at 150% within the first 2 hours after exercise.

Your meal needs to consist of calcium (for muscle recovery and it is also a natural electrolyte), protein and carbs again for muscle recovery and replenishing glucose stores. Water is also essential here and you need to increase your water intake for the day after an exercise session.

Within 2 hours

  • Wholemeal Chicken Wrap with Cheese
  • Raw Nuts, Yoghurt and Fruit
  • Wholemeal Pasta, Meat and Vegies
  • Smoothie (Milk, Fresh Fruit, Yoghurt/Almonds, Oats & Protein Powder)
  • Jacket Potato, Beans, Vegetables and Cheese

If you require something more specific in terms of sports nutrition please let me know.

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