Many people think that achieving good nutrition whilst training is complicated. Hands up if you’ve heard terms like ‘carb loading’ and ‘nutrition timing’ and just wanted to go and curl up in a corner of the gym because you don’t have a clue what they mean? The truth of the matter is that unless you’re a professional athlete or bodybuilder you don’t really need to eat in a specific, or complicated, way.
The most important things to bear in mind when it comes to nutrition and fitness are the quality and quantity of what you’re eating. Avoid processed foods and instead enjoy plenty of whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables. Another basic rule to follow is to eat something 1-3 hours before exercising, and then again 1-3 hours after. Ideally, the meal should be balanced and contain a decent amount of carbohydrates, fats and protein. The closer you get to your workout, the lighter your meal should be. For example, if you are aiming to eat an hour before hitting the gym a good option might be 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder, 1 large handful of baby spinach, a banana, a teaspoon of peanut butter and 300ml unsweetened almond milk.
What about eating during exercise? Generally, if your session is under two hours you probably only need to focus on hydration. Remember that hydration isn’t just about water but about the minerals in the water - this is particularly important when training in hot conditions. Be wary of high sugar hydration sachets and drinks as you can make a simple hydration cocktail yourself by adding a pinch of good quality rock salt to 500ml of water. Coconut water is another good option as it contains the right ratio of minerals that the body needs to stay hydrated. If you’re training for over 2 hours the general rule is to consume 15g of protein and 35-40g of carbohydrates every hour. A basic protein shake with some fruit will hit the spot!
The success of any nutrition programme rests on being well organised, and making sure you have access to good quality food both before and after training. Draw up a weekly shopping list to make sure you have all the ingredients for pre and post workout smoothies which can be a life-saver for the busy person ….as can having a stash of frozen spinach in your freezer for an extra mineral boost after a tough workout!