With restrictions starting to ease you may be excited to get back into your training scheme but doing so without considering your nutrition may hinder your performance and/or recovery. Ensuring that you adequately fuel your body for recovery as well as performance is especially important during this time as you start to increase your training load.
One of the reasons that nutrition is so important when returning to training is our immune function; if we do not appropriately fuel before or refuel after our sessions this can increase our likelihood of getting sick. The stress of increasing your training load may come at the expense of your immune system, this is something we need to be mindful of with the current situation as well as during the colder months.
So, what do we need to do to optimise our nutrition intake to both support our immune system, and ensure we are getting the most from our training sessions?
Adequately fuelling before training is important as it will help to fuel the body and provide sustained energy throughout the session which will result in improved performance. This pre workout meal should contain carbohydrates and some protein depending on the time it is consumed.
Carbohydrates are essential for performance as they are our bodies preferred source of energy and are the fastest to be broken down in the body. Consuming carbohydrates helps to top up our glycogen stores which is what our body uses for energy, if our stores are low, we are less able to perform at our best in the training session.
What should I be eating pre workout?
This will depend on the time you are doing your training session, if your session is first thing in the morning having some easily digested carbohydrates such as a banana, up & go, smoothie or slice of toast is beneficial. However, if your session is later in the day consuming a meal that contains carbohydrates and protein 2-4 hours before will be beneficial e.g. eggs on toast, yoghurt with fruit and nuts or a chicken and salad sandwich.
It is also important that you are hydrated pre workout, drinking plenty of water before and during your early morning session and consuming adequate water throughout the day if you exercise later in the evening. Aim for urine to be pale yellow or colourless.
Appropriate refuelling post workout is just as important as fuelling before our workouts. This meal should contain both protein and carbohydrates and will help the body to recover, promote muscle growth and repair, rehydrate and help to replenish your energy stores. Post workout meals are particularly important if your sessions are close together or you train more than once per day as your body does not have time to recover and replenish its stores.
What should I be eating post workout?
Consuming this meal as soon as possible, or 30-60 minutes after your session is recommended. Your post workout meal should contain complex carbohydrates as well as a source of protein. For example, wholegrain toast with eggs and avocado, high protein banana smoothie, tuna and rice or grilled chicken and sweet potato salad. One again, it is extremely important to rehydrate post session! Again, aim for urine to be pale yellow/colourless. Another handy trick is weighing yourself before and after the session, and then rehydrating with 150% of what you have lost in that training session over the following 4-6 hours. For example, if 1kg is lost in the session, rehydrating with 1.5L of fluid.
If you are not adequately fuelling before and/or after your sessions you may notice increased fatigue, reduced performance, lowered immunity and as well as increased muscle soreness. By eating enough before and after your training sessions, and ensuring you remain well hydrated, you are more likely to achieve your performance goals, and less likely to become unwell.