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Nutrition Strategies for Pre- and Post-Workout Fuelling

We all know that nutrition is a very important factor to stay fuelled for workouts, but it’s often one of the first things to slip our mind when we get busy training for a competition or event. Staying fuelled with the right foods before and after your training can improve your performance and recovery.

Pre-Workout Nutrition

The main goal of pre-workout nutrition is to provide your body with the energy it needs to train effectively. Here are some key strategies:

  1. Timing: Eating a balanced meal 2-3 hours before your workout, including carbs, protein and fat, will help with sustained energy. Some people like to eat closer to their workout, and if this is the case you should choose an energy and carb-dense snack 30-60 minutes before exercising.

  2. Carbohydrates: Carbs are your body’s main source of energy during high-intensity workouts. Include complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in your pre-workout meal to provide a steady release of energy.

  3. Protein: Including some protein can help to support muscle repair and growth. Good sources include lean meats, eggs, dairy, or plant-based options like beans and lentils.

  4. Hydration: Begin your workout well-hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. An electrolyte drink could also be a good option if you’re engaging in a long or high intensity session.

Post-Workout Nutrition

The focus for post-workout nutrition is on recovery. Your meals or snacks should aim to replenish glycogen stores, repair muscle tissue, and rehydrate.

  1. Timing: Aim to eat within 30 minutes to two hours after your workout. This is when your body is most efficient at utilising nutrients for recovery.

  2. Carbohydrates and Protein: A combination of carbs and protein is a must. Carbs help replenish glycogen stores, and protein helps with muscle repair. A good ratio is 3:1 or 4:1 carbs to protein. For example, a protein shake with fruit, a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, or a bowl of quinoa with vegetables and chicken are all good post-workout meal options.

  3. Hydration: Replace fluids lost through sweat by drinking water or an electrolyte drink.

 

By paying attention to your pre- and post-workout nutrition, you can maximise your performance, support recovery, and maintain overall health. While what you eat directly before and after a training session is important, so is the rest of your diet. If you think you might be unintentionally under-fuelling or over-fuelling, it’s important to talk to a dietitian. They can help create a diet and nutrition plan that works for your body, schedule, and exercise level.

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