Fuelling training sessions with suitable food choices before you start is important to ensure your body has the energy it needs to perform at its best. If you can train more effectively, the better the training outcomes and ultimately the better athlete you can become.
Post-training food choices can influence training adaptations and recovery which can impact how well you perform in subsequent sessions. Poor recovery can lead to excessive soreness and fatigue, influencing your capacity to back up and perform consistently.
What to eat before training
Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for the body and the brain. To make these carbohydrates available for your muscles when you train, a meal or snack high in carbohydrates and lower in fat and fibre can reduce the risk of gastrointestinal upset.
Aim to have a carbohydrate-rich snack 30-90 minutes before training. Examples include:
- 400ml orange juice
- Small bowl low-fibre cereal
- 1-2 slices toast/raisin bread with jam or honey
- 4 corn thins + 2 tsp honey
- Muesli bar + piece of fruit
- 1 tub two fruits + 1 tub yoghurt
- 1 bottle Powerade Isotonic
If training in the afternoon, be sure to incorporate carbohydrates in your meals and snacks consistently over the whole day. An example could be oats or another whole-grain cereal at breakfast, fruit and yoghurt at morning tea and bread as a sandwich at lunch.
What to eat after training
The body needs carbohydrates again to replace what has just been used as well as protein for muscle growth and repair. The sooner you consume a meal or snack consisting of both protein and carbohydrates after training, the sooner your body commences the recovery process. When you have a short turnaround between sessions like a morning and afternoon training on the same day, the sooner you start recovering after the morning, the better you will feel in the subsequent session. If you don’t think you can stomach food ASAP after training, try fluid options like smoothies or have two to three smaller meals each hour or two till appetite returns.
Examples of post-training carbohydrate + protein-rich meals/snacks are:
- Smoothie with Musashi protein powder and fruit (be sure to consult a sports dietitian before consuming supplements)
- 2 raisin toast + ricotta/cottage cheese
- Bowl of muesli + high-protein Greek yoghurt
- Toastie with tuna, eggs, cheese or ham
- High-protein Greek yoghurt + fruit + mixed nuts
- Flavoured milk popper
- 2 grainy toast + small tin of baked beans
Article courtesy of Sally Walker (Section Lead Dietitian), Holly Edstein (Sport Dietitian) and Rebecca Haslam (Sport Dietitian), NSW Institute of Sport