Your Most Common Sports Nutrition Questions Answered!

Sports nutrition body fusion

Body Fusion answer your most common sports nutrition questions

If you want to make the most out of your exercise schedule then fuelling your body with the right balance of foods is particularly important. Local Dietitian/Nutritionist Katrina Mills from Body Fusion has put together some of the most frequently asked questions she gets from active clients around Lane Cove:

What should I eat before I train?

If improving performance is your main goal out of your training session then eating and drinking before hand has been shown to sustain energy and intensity levels. The body’s primary source of fuel during a workout is generally carbohydrate. If you exercise on an empty stomach your body will burn your stores of glycogen first, however these will only last about 60 – 90 minutes depending on your level of intensity. Following that your body will look for more fuel and begin turning to your fat stores to burn energy through oxidation.

As your carbohydrate reserves begin to drop, so does your level of intensity. If you are trying to beat a personal best in a sprint session for example, you are less likely to be able to accomplish this if you haven’t fuelled up sufficiently before your training session.

The amount and types of foods eaten before an exercise sessions varies dramatically between individuals due to their personal gastrointestinal tract. Most people should be able to tolerate a main meal approximately 2–4 hours before their session. This should comprise of a low GI, slow release carbohydrate like wholegrain bread/roll, long grain basmati or brown rice, quinoa or sweet potato with approx. 15- 20g protein.

For those who know they are going into a long and heavy session, it is recommended that glycogen stores are topped up so eating an easily digested carbohydrate snack like a couple of fresh dates, a handful of grapes, wholegrain rice crackers with a ripe banana. There isn’t just one ‘ideal’ meal, the best meal is the one that you can comfortably digest.

If I workout in the morning, does that mean I need to eat before I train?

The short answer is no, your glycogen stores will last throughout a 60 – 90 minute training session. If you need to have something in your stomach then a small, easily digested carbohydrate based snack like some grapes or a small banana is ideal.

Do I need to use a sports drink?

You will generally not need to consume any food or sports drinks if your sessions are less than 60 minutes, possibly even 90 minutes if training at a lower intensity. Water is the best and only fluid you will need during one exercise class.

How much do I need to drink?

The amount of fluid you need to replace depends on the amount sweat produced & your level of hydration when you start exercising. Hydration ideally begins 2 hours prior to your session so sipping on water beforehand as well as during the session is the best way to prevent dehydration. The specific amount you need is very individualised as sweat production varies considerably due to genetics, body size, fitness levels, the temperature & humidity as well as duration of the training session. Seek individual advice from a Sports Dietitian to accurately determine your fluid loss.

What is the best meal to eat after I train?

A carbohydrate and protein rich meal should then be consumed after a workout. Post exercise meals need to contain slow release, wholegrain carbohydrates and lean protein for muscle repair. Again, there are many options depending on what is best tolerated by the individual and the practicality of the meal. eg. If you are running to work and don’t have time for eggs on toast then a smoothie would be a good option.

Some examples include:

  • Bowl of rolled oats or untoasted muesli with plain yoghurt & berries
  • Smoothie: ¼ cup oats, 1 -2 pieces fruit, 1 scoop of protein powder + 1 cup milk + 1 handful of spinach or vegetables if desired.
  • 1 -2 cups starchy vegetables including sweet potato, pumpkin or corn with 100-150g lean protein (chicken, fish or lean, grass fed red meat or beans/legumes) or 2 eggs & green vegetables
  • Wholegrain toast or sweet potato + 2 eggs + grilled mushrooms, asparagus & rocket
  • 1 -2 cups long grain brown rice with tuna/salmon/chicken + salad
  • Wholemeal pasta + lean mince & lentils in sauce with salad
  • 4-6 wholegrain crackers + 1 tin tuna + hummus and a piece of fruit

When should I eat my post workout meal?

Ideally within 30 minutes of finishing and no later than 60- 90 minutes after finishing the session. This is what we call the ‘window of opportunity’ because the body is most effective at using carbohydrate & protein, facilitating muscle repair and growth. Remember that the body continues this repair process up to 12-24 hours after each training session. So athletes should always consume small amounts of protein throughout their day.

For all your sports nutrition related questions come and speak to us in person at Body Fusion.

Katrina Mills Dietician Lane Cove

Katrina Mills  is an enthusiastic and driven dietitian/nutritionist who was inspired by food and nutrition from a young age. She believes that whole, natural foods should be one of the cornerstones of a balanced, healthy lifestyle that can be enjoyed by all – no matter what walk of life.  You can find out more about Katrina here

Body Fusion
Address: 221 Longueville Road, Lane Cove, NSW 2066
Phone: 0410 533 213
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