Eating the right fuels will completely change how well you achieve your fitness goals. It’s about understanding and being realistic with the frequency of your exercise, because where you fit in the spectrum will impact what your body needs to win. Whether you’re training for performance, lifestyle or weight-loss, here’s the nutrition tips you need to know.
The Performance Group
FOCUS: To have a high output of energy and be able to sustain it.
For those who are clocking in a large amount of exercise, there are two schools of thought here. The traditional one is where you run on more carbs for fuel by pre carb loading, making sure you have plenty of glycogen stores to fuel your performance and top up as you go with sports gels and sports drinks. The other is where you opt for a smaller amount of carbs from vegetables and salads etc. but focus on a larger portion of healthy fats.
Fats have around twice the amount of energy of carbs per gram but can be slower to turn into readily available energy, especially if you are a power athlete. I’d advise trying both methods to see which one works better for you. Keep in mind that genetics and your lifestyle will determine how good your body is using each system to fuel your body.
For the carb loaders: Carb-loading is easy. Personally, I prefer to get my carbs from veggies like sweet potato, whole fruits, some grains (If your digestive system can take it) such as quinoa and whole oats.
Hello healthy fat source: When it comes to healthy fats, my favourites include avocado, eggs, nuts (ABC’s - Almond/Brazil/Cashews) butter and coconut oil.
The Lifestyle Group
FOCUS: You want a little pep up without finishing your workout in a world of pain.
Everyone’s body needs fuel, but you’re not running a marathon and you want to maintain your health while still enjoying the things you love doing. Is your goal to get the most out of your game of touch footy or through a spin class energised and ready to start the rest of your day?
A good meal of slow release complex carbs (from whole foods) and some healthy fat for energy is your best option. This will provide you the energy your body requires to get through your day comfortably while throwing in some protein, vitamins and minerals will help support, heal and renew your body. Opt for whole fruit and veggies (organic where possible) and be sure to avoid any processed and packaged foods. The more colours on your plate, the better!
• Bacon, tomato and spinach egg scramble
• Banana slices with almond nut butter
• Teaspoon of coconut oil with a square of dark 70% min chocolate
• Protein shake (rice/pea/cold pressed whey) with some berries and or nuts
• ¼ cup of oatmeal topped with berries
The Weight-Loss Group
FOCUS: Using your fat stores as your workout fuel.
Glucagon is your best friend. It is the hormone that is released when your body decides it’s time to draw on your stored body fat. It works in a polar opposite fashion to the hormone insulin which is released when we have too much sugar and prompt our body to store it.
Simply put, avoid foods that break down into sugar easily, as it will stimulate insulin and start the fat storage process. To maximise fat burning during a workout, try working out earlier in the morning before your first main meal. If you need something in your belly opt for something that that won’t stimulate your insulin such as a boiled egg, handful of almonds, nut butter on some carrot or celery sticks or a shot of espresso with a dollop of fresh cream.