Irrespective of whether you are a recreational runner or a super fit triathlete, everything you put into your mouth affects your performance. To get more out of your workout and boost your fitness, follow these four fuelling tips.
By morning, most of the fuel you received from your dinner the night before is gone and blood sugar levels are low, which can make you feel sluggish. Eating before your workout can help you train for harder and longer. If training early, light snack such as a piece of fruit, tub of yoghurt or muesli bar within an hour of your training will help provide you some fuel. You can then follow your workout with a more substantial breakfast of porridge, overnight oats or eggs on toast. These breakfast options are also great if you’re training later in the day as they’re low GI and contain protein to help you you powered up for your workout.
Make sure you are getting adequate water before, during and after your workout. Dehydration of just two per cent can reduce performance. To check your hydration status, look at the colour of your urine – a pale straw colour means you are well hydrated, while dark urine represents a dehydrated state. Start your workout in a well-hydrated state and drink 150-300ml of fluid every 15-20 minutes when exercising. Post exercise aim to drink 125-150% of your fluid loses. This means if you lose 1kg you need to drink 1.25-1.5L to rehydrate. To aid hydration and rehydration, add an electrolyte tablet to your water.
Time your meals
Be careful not to eat too much before you workout, so that you don’t cause stomach upsets. Remember, you can only use the food you have had time to digest. Eating too much before you exercise can lead to stomach upsets such as diarrhoea or cramping. Work with the time you have prior to your exercise session. If you have two to three hours before training, enjoy a meal that is high in carbohydrate, moderate in protein and low in fat – a chicken salad sandwich or tuna pasta salad are perfect options. In you only have an hour, enjoy a smaller snack of a piece of fruit, muesli bar or tub of yoghurt.
Recover with food
Your recovery nutrition is the most important factor for how well you will perform at your next workout. For the best recovery post-exercise, follow the four R rule: refuel with carbohydrates, repair damaged muscles with protein, rehydrate with fluid and reinforce with fruit, vegetables and healthy fats. Eat for recovery and not as a reward for exercise. Good post-workout foods include glass of low-fat milk, trial mix with dried fruit & nuts, low-fat yoghurt or a regular meal with carbohydrates, protein and salad or vegetables like a chicken, noodle and vegetable stir-fry.