Sports Nutrition advice on how to prepare for your best sports performance

Part 1 Pre- Exercise Nutrition

We get loads of questions from our clients about how to prepare their body for a sports or training event. Today we share some advice from our Senior Dietitian and Nutritionist Jordan Morrison on fuelling your body to achieve for your personal best sports performance.

Goals of Pre-exercise Fuelling

  • Fuel and hydrate body and brain for exercise session ahead
  • Provides carbohydrates in blood and in storage, to be used as body’s ideal energy source
  • Avoid distracting hunger pangs during session, unwanted stomach discomfort / trips to bathroom
  • Maximise training performance + optimise adaptations

When to fuel and when not to fuel

When training first thing in the morning: Prioritise pre-training meal/snack for:
  • High intensity workouts
  • Resistance training
  • Events/games/testing days ie. anything performance based
  • Training requires high concentration/technique/learning (remember your brain needs carbs for fuel too!)
Not required (but if preferred, would still recommend) for:
  • Lower intensity workouts e.g. light run/walk/cycle; yoga; low intensity pilates (note: some types may require fuelling)
When training later in the day:
  • Firstly, try to plan regular meals/snacks around your training
  • Then consider if you need to include an extra snack for pre/post training nutrition

What food protocol can you follow?

While it is always best to individualise an eating plan for you, there are some general recommendations that you can follow are: Main meal
  • 2-4 hours before, to avoid stomach upset
  • Balanced meal (healthy plate model)
  • Complex, high fibre carbohydrate (1/4-1/3 plate)
  • Lean protein (¼ plate)
  • Veggies (1/2 plate
  • Thumb size healthy fats
Pre-training/performance snack
  • 45-60 minutes before
  • Carbohydrate-rich
  • Low in fibre
  • Easy to digest – avoid high fat + high protein foods
  • Familiar foods so don’t try anything new on event / testing day!. Some examples would be: Small bowl cereal/muesli with fruit, milk/yogurt, Crumpets/bagel with sliced banana + honey, Small bowl pasta w tomato based sauce, Fruit smoothie, Raisin toast with jam or Creamed rice w fruit
Examples for very early risers who don’t like to eat before:
  • ½-1 banana
  • 2 Medjool dates
  • Coffee + an orange
  • 150-200ml OJ + water to dilute

Hydration and why it is important 

The main reason we look to ensure adequate hydration is to avoid negative impacts of dehydration, which may include:
  • Physical and mental performance decreases
  • Exercise feels harder (especially in the heat)
  • Impaired skill level and decision making
  • Poor concentration and mental fatigue
  • Increased risk of nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
How much is enough? This dependent on  fluid loss, so consider sweating; weather; intensity/duration of exercise; sweat test. The general rules are to sip fluid in the hours leading into exercise rather than having large volumes just before commencing exercise What type is best? For hydration and to minimise dehydration options include water or electrolytes (e.g. hydralyte) which is adequate for the majority of people. For fuel source during exercise you can utilise sports drinks e.g. powerade which is beneficial  for athletes in particular high-duration events. In our next blog we will continue this theme and look at post training and recovery as well as the role of supplements. Stay tuned for more to come and if you need more individualised help, please reach out to our expert team