Did you know that inadequate sports nutrition increases your risk of poor performance, injury, fatigue and suboptimal gains? Since nutrition is a significant contributor to exercise performance and recovery, it is crucial to consider the nutritional content and timing of your meals and snacks.
Whilst we all have different goals, food preferences and training schedules, there are basic sports nutrition guidelines everyone can follow to help optimise performance and recovery.
Dietitians Anna and Alex from The Biting Truth share their top tips below.
Eating before exercise will provide you with the fuel necessary to optimise performance and get the most out of your workout. Skipping a pre-workout meal or not eating enough can affect safety and performance by contributing to dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, lethargy and increasing susceptibility to injuries.
It is also important to consider the type of fuel you’re giving your body! Fuelling with the right nutrients prior to exercise will provide you with the energy and strength necessary to optimise performance. The key elements of pre-workout nutrition largely depend on the type of training you’re undertaking, your personal preferences and your exercise goals.
In general, your pre-exercise meal or snack should be:
- Rich in carbohydrates and protein: this will allow you to prime your fuel stores and support working muscles
- Low in fibre, especially for those with gut issues: foods that are low in fibre are digested quickly to provide you with fuel and avoid gastrointestinal issues during your workout (e.g. cramping, bloating).
- Easy to digest – avoid foods overly high in fat as these are slow to digest (e.g. dairy products, fatty meats).
Carbohydrates prior to exercise can assist in topping up your muscle glycogen stores to support training by providing working muscles with adequate fuel. Although protein is a bigger focus in post exercise nutrition, consuming protein prior to a workout can also assist with muscle protein synthesis and recovery.
As a guide, aim to consume a meal 2–4 hours prior to exercise or a snack 1-2 hours before a workout. Since our taste buds (and our stomachs!) differ, we recommend taking some time to experiment with different options to find what works best for you.