Fuel your fitness
It is important to consider nutrition and how it effects the body when you exercise, so that you are able to nourish your body effectively and eat for maximum performance. When you exercise aerobically for two hours or more, the main fuels of energy used are muscle glycogen, liver glycogen, intra-muscular fat and fat from adipose tissue. For the first 5-15 minutes of exercise the main fuel is carbohydrate (glycogen) however as time goes on more fat is used and proportionally less carbohydrate.
Transform your training with Grace nutritionist Jade Barkett’s top tips for energising, refueling and recovery:
- The primary source of energy is carbohydrates. These provide the body with glycogen stores which has a direct effect on exercise performance. If your main goal is weight loss, omit pre-exercise carbohydrate so that your body starts burning fat after all carbohydrate stores are completed.
- Protein is so important for the replacement and growth of body tissue and as a source of energy for the brain and central nervous system. Animal sources have the most complete amino acid profile however red meat and cheese are also high in saturated fat. Opt for eggs as the best source.
- For a vegetarian/vegan option, complement plant based proteins with each other by combining pulses (beans, lentils, peas) with grains (rice, oats, quinoa) and nuts & seeds (almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds).
- Increase your consumption of omega 3 fatty acids through SMASH fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herrings). The modern diet is very high in omega-6 fatty acids (such as vegetable oils, salad dressings, crisps, refined foods, dairy and meat) with a omega 6: omega 3 ratio of 20:1 when it should be no more than 4:1. Fat contributes to the production of ATP, our cells energy currency.
- Before a workout the main aim is glucose release. Eat complex carbohydrates with natural sugar for optimum effect, such as oatcakes with almond butter and a drizzle of honey. If you are exercising first thing in the morning have a small snack (such as a green juice/small granola bar or half a banana with almond butter) 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to starting.
- Following a workout and during the first 30 minutes to an hour eat a high protein meal such as poached eggs with salmon. The aim is muscle repair and the amino acids in protein are the building blocks needed to help your body recuperate.
- If you are working out in the afternoon and don’t want to have a big meal following your workout then try a post-training smoothie, this is one of my favourites:
- Tablespoon of protein powder, like Super Elixir Nourishing Protein
- ½ Avocado/banana
- 1 cup of frozen berries – blueberries/raspberries/strawberries
- Handful of spinach/kale
- Tablespoon of soaked nuts/seeds
- Tablespoon of nut butter
- Teaspoon of cinnamon
- Teaspoon of coconut oil
- Blend with water/coconut water/almond milk
- When training intensely eat 5 – 6 smaller meals per day to promote glycogen storage, lean tissue repair and growth and to discourage fat storage.
- Drink at least two litres of water per day. Dehydration causes lactic acid build up and increases muscle aches and fatigue. Remember that alcohol and caffeine are diuretics so with every cup drink an extra glass of water. Green tea is an excellent alternative as it also provides antioxidants used for muscle repair.
- If you’d like to enhance your diet with supplements, choose a good B Complex (Wild Nutrition does a good blend that includes co-enzyme Q10, magnesium & vitamin C), which will support your energy needs and resistance to stress.
Jade Barkett offers nutritional consultations for both men and women at Grace Medical Clinic. For more information on the guidance and support she can offer, please click here.