In our previous blog, The Role of Nutrition in Sport, you learned about the components of nutrition and how they provide energy. This week we’ll put this into practise by learning about fueling for exercise.
Create a Healthy Eating Routine
A healthy lifestyle is achieved by making small, positive changes on a daily basis. Reaching for a handful of berries or nuts instead of a chocolate bar, and loading your meals with a variety of colourful veggies, all help in providing your body with the wholesome nutrients it needs.
When you’re taking part in an exercise program that involves high load sessions and events, extra consideration needs to be given to your nutrition needs.
We chatted to a friend and dietitian, Sarah Chantler, about fueling for exercise – before, during and after. Here is some of the valuable advice that she gave us.
Fueling Before Exercise
3-4 hours before competition – eat a meal that matches your fueling needs. If your competition is longer than an hour, prioritise the energy foods like fruit, cereals, grains and tubers. If you lose your appetite due to nerves or other things, have something small and split it in two.
1-2 hours before competition – add a top-up snack if you are hungry or on the move. Choose things that are small, easy on the tummy and tasty. Prepare them yourself if possible so you can modify the content to match what you need.
Fueling During Exercise
When exercise or competitions continue for more than an hour, it’s a good idea to replenish your energy stores.
In hot conditions (such as running in summer) – have a bottle of water or diluted fruit juice available.
In cold conditions (such as swimming in the sea) – sugary tea or fruit puree works great to top-up your energy levels.
Recovery After Exercise
Modify your recovery snack to match the intensity of your session. High intensity sessions may require carbohydrate-rich foods, whereas lower intensity sessions may require more protein. Either way, make sure to plan ahead if you’re on the go and to combine good quality ingredients together.
The main thing is to find what works for you. Practise your nutrition strategies during training sessions – never try anything new on race day!