Get the most out of your training sessions by fuelling your body with the right food at the right time

Smart sports nutrition: What, when and how to eat for maximum results

Get the most out of your training sessions by fueling your body with the right food at the right time. Below you’ll find our answers to some of the most frequently asked sports nutrition questions:

Q: What should I eat BEFORE an event or training session?

A: What and how much you eat before your workout will depend on how much time you have. There are some hard and fast rules to keep in mind.

Low-fibre, carbohydrate-rich foods with a small amount of low fat protein will top off your muscle stores and reduce post-exercise soreness. Avoid fibre-rich or fatty foods; they can slow absorption and leave you feeling sluggish. Choose familiar foods that are well tolerated and easily digested to avoid an upset stomach. Last, but not least, don’t forget to hydrate! Your body is made up of 70 per cent water. Being dehydrated by even two per cent can decrease performance by about 10 per cent.

TIME BEFORE WORKOUT CARBOHYDRATES WATER EXAMPLES FOR 170lb ATHLETE
30 Minutes 25g (100 – 150 calories) 1-2 cups 1 medium banana OR,
¾ cup flavored yogurt
1 hour 1g carbohydrates/kg (200-350 calories) 1 -1.5 cups ¾ cup yogurt, ½ cup low fat granola, 1 apple OR, ½ bagel, 1 tsp jam, 1 cup 1% milk, 1 banana
2 – 3 hours 1.5-2g carbohydrates/kg (400-600 calories) 1 ½ – 2 cups 1 cup berries, 1 cup yogurt + 1 cup low fat granola OR, 1 ½ cups cooked oatmeal with ¼ cup almonds, raisins, ½ banana, 1 cup milk

A: Carbohydrate loading is referred to as the practice of consuming larger than usual amounts of carbohydrates, several days before a high-intensity, endurance athletic event. The purpose of this is to improve athletic performance by increasing the amount of fuel stored in the muscles.

Unless you are doing more than 90 minutes of continuous activity (marathon running, long distance triathlons, cycling races or other endurance events), carbo loading will not benefit you. It requires a specific diet and exercise plan, ideally under the supervision of a dietitian. It is not a license to eat ‘everything’.

Q: Should I eat DURING and AFTER my exercise or training sessions?

If you are well fueled before your workout, your nutrition goal is to stay well hydrated during exercise. For workouts longer than 60 minutes, consider hydration with higher sources of energy than water such as sports drinks and coconut water.

WHEN CARBOHYDRATE FLUID EXAMPLES
During exercise If your workout is longer than 60 mins, eat 30-60g of carbohydrates over 60-90 mins Aim to drink 3-4 large sips of water or sports drinkevery 15 mins 1 cup sports drink + 1 sport gel OR, banana + handful of dried fruit

Replenish your energy supply within 60 minutes of exercising to top up muscle glycogen storage to ensure optimal energy for your next training session or workout.

WHEN CARBOHYDRATE PROTEIN FLUID EXAMPLES
After exercise 1g of carbohydrates 15-20g 2 cups (500 ml) Smoothie (1 cup higher protein yogurt (Greek yogurt),1 cup orange juice, 1 cup frozen berries, 1 med. banana OR, lean meat whole grain sandwich, 1 ½ cups of quinoa or bean salad with tomatoes and cucumbers

Q: How can I lose weight while maintaining enough energy for training?

A: Don’t eat the calories you burn. To avoid overeating, load up half your plate with vegetables and maintain a healthy intake of fibre with beans, lentils, whole grains, and fruits that will keep you full throughout the day.

For a personalized plan that takes into account your unique lifestyle, fitness goals and food preferences, please make an appointment with a Copeman Healthcare Registered Dietitian.


If you are interested in learning more healthy eating best practices, check out
 our guide.

Copeman’s Definitive Guide to Healthy Eating Habits