We love experts at Get Nakie – meet our guest blogger, Dietitian, Chloe McLeod. She is both gorgeous and clever, check out her post on eating around training below!
Do you ever feel like you are training so hard, but not quite getting the results that you are after? What about finding that you are super hungry at times during the day you wouldn’t expect to be? The key may be in changing the time that you eat.
Eating well around training sessions is essential to improving performance, achieving body composition goals, and enhancing energy levels over the course of the day.
Food intake prior to a training session depends on what you are planning to do, and when you are planning to do it, and how long you are planning to do it for.
For a training session that is more cardiovascular based, say a 40 minute run or a spin class, it is completely feasible (and likely beneficial) to complete this without eating anything, or with just a small serve of fruit. As a general recommendation, I will often suggest to clients that the morning session be fasted, whilst for an afternoon session a small snack approximately an hour or 45 minutes before the session will help the most.
Longer cardiovascular sessions that go over an hour it is a good idea to include something to help fuel the session. I like to think of this as ‘pre-breakfast’, as the longer sessions are often completed in the morning, and by the time you get to breakfast, you will definitely be ready for it! Again, the timing depends on how much is needed. For an hour session, again, a piece of fruit is likely all that will be required. Bananas are a great option. If your run (or other exercise) is planned to be for 90 minutes or more, then a mini meal will be most beneficial. Carbohydrate that is readily digested, with a small amount of protein is best here.
If the session is weights or resistance based exercise, this requires a source of carbohydrate, and inclusion of protein in this pre-training meal may also have benefits as well. Not eating before a weights session is likely to have negative outcomes in relation to strength and muscle mass; the opposite of what you want! Popular options are fruit and yoghurt or brown rice with chicken or fish. The heavier the meal, the more time will be needed for digestion prior to the session (ie, the rice option would be best eaten around 2 hours before the training session, where as the fruit and yoghurt could be eaten much closer to the session).
What about after the session?
Again food choice is important, but timing is king. Leaving it hours and hours after any training session can be detrimental. Consuming a source a protein and carbohydrate within 20-30 minutes of finishing your training session will give you the best outcomes, and help with managing hunger levels later in the day. So what are the best choices? Milk has been shown in research to be the best option for recovery, due to it’s unique profile of protein and carbs, along with electrolytes. As such a smoothie is a great choice as it is also easy to consume on the go. Otherwise, eggs on toast, salmon with sweet potato or any other combination of protein and carbs are all appropriate choices.
But does this mean eating anything extra? Not unless you have incredibly high energy requirements and struggle to maintain your weight. For most of us, it means planning meals around training sessions more effectively. See below for some examples.
Short cardio session:
Before – Nothing, or a piece of fruit
After – Porridge with yoghurt and nuts or salmon with sweet potato and steamed greens
Long cardio session:
Before – Banana and a slice of toast
After – Poached eggs with toast and veggies
Before – Fruit and yoghurt
After – Banana smoothie
Catch Chloe on Twitter or Insta @chloe_mcleod or visit her website for more healthy food & excercise tips here