This month we asked our Facebook Group members to vote on what topic they would like covered and eating around training was top of the list!!
First up, I want to make sure that it’s clear that not everyone needs to consider their nutrition around their training session. The more intense your session is or the more you have a focus on performance, the more important it becomes.
Using myself as an example, if I am just going for a 1km swim (not very intense), I won’t really need to think much about my food to fuel this activity. However, if I’m going to lift weights and I want to hit PB then yes, I am going to think about eating before and after this activity to try and get the best results.
Focusing on feeling good
I think this is a really important thing to discuss here. I want you to focus on feeling great when you train and support your training with optimal food. For so many people, the focus is on burning calories and expending energy but instead, I want your to see the benefits from exercise like getting fitter, stronger and seeing the adaptions the body will have to the training. If your goal is weight loss, these will all carry over into helping your lose weight. Firstly because you will be enjoying your activity rather than struggling through it (which happens when you are under-fuelled). Therefore you are likely to continue doing it for longer!
Secondly, shifting your focus away from weight loss goals and onto performance based goals gives you something really tangible to aim for (weight loss is essentially out of your control). But you can control how many sessions you attend. You can control the amount weight you can lift. You can control how many steps you do and all of these will give you a solid goal to achieve outside of losing weight.
Should I eat before I train?
This will depend on a few things including:
- The time of day
- Your preference and tolerance of food before you train
- The type of training you are doing
Generally, the more intense your session is, or the longer duration your session is, the more eating before hand becomes important.
Even in the morning, you need to remember that you have just fasted for at least 7-8 hours so even your stored levels of glycogen are going to be low. Topping this up with some carbohydrates pre-training can significantly improve your performance in the session and perhaps even your enjoyment in the session!
If you train later in the day, it is important to consider how long it is between your last meal and your training session. If you eat lunch at 12pm and don’t train until 6pm, this is a long time to go without having something to eat! Planning a meal or snack anywhere from 1-3 hours before training is going to be optimal.
Should I eat during my training session?
This really only applies to those of your who are training for more than 90 minutes. If your session is shorter than this, I would recommend eating before and after for optimal performance. But if your session is longer than this then I would also recommend having something to eat or drink during your session.
Depending on your activity/sport, this could be sports drink, gels, honey sandwich, banana or a muesli bar etc.
Do I need to eat straight after I train?
Eating close to training (within about 1 hour) is particularly important if you have trained fasted or if your recovery needs to be quite aggressive (eg. you have 2 sessions in the same day or are competing in multiple events in one day). Otherwise, eating something within the next 2 hours or so is completely fine to support your training.
What to eat around training?
- Easy to digest (generally low fat, low fibre)
- Can include protein and veg if further away from training time
- Carbohydrate focus when closer to training
- Examples include bananas, toast/crumpets, cereal/oats
- Focus on carbs, protein and hydration
- Mixed meal is great (eg. finish training and go home to have dinner)
- Snacks might include high protein yoghurt and fruit, smoothie, protein shake if needed for convenience