How to fuel your body for a workout

Optimize your workout with these top nutrition tips

We often hear that our bodies are like amazing machines, so it follows that we need to know how best to fuel it for optimum performance.

The first thing to understand about fuelling your body for a workout is what you are hoping food will help you achieve. In eating before a workout, the aims are to: 

• Increase your performance during your workout

• Assist your recovery after the workout so you can train again sooner 

• Give your body the nutrients it needs to build and replenish muscle 

The second aspect you should understand is that your body can’t perform optimally on junk food. Junk food inhibits your progress in training, as well as your body’s ability to recover. So junk is out. Healthy is in.

So what foods are good for your body?

1. Carbohydrates:

Group A: Vegetables. Vegetables consist of many vitamins and minerals, but also contain carbohydrates which are essential for producing energy for your body.

Group B: Fruit and starchy foods. Fruit and starchy foods such as grains, root vegetables and legumes give you energy in the form of glucose and fructose, which can be used as fast releasing energy. 

2. Proteins. Proteins are the building blocks of everything in your body – cells, muscles and tissue. They are essential to help you create new muscle and repair old cells.

3. Fats. Nuts, seeds, oils, avocado, eggs and dairy are all essential in providing your body with the fat that supports long term energy release and helps build cell walls. 

Now that you know what to eat, you can break these down into what you should eat before and after a workout and for meals.

Most people think you need a lot of Group B carbohydrates when training, however this is a common misconception. You actually need a small amount pre and post workout, but not alot. 

To fuel your body pre-workout, a piece of fruit for a quick energy release is best. You could also have a small handful of nuts or an egg to provide some protein and good fat to replenish your muscle while you train.  Try to consume these 30-45 minutes before your workout to allow for them to be digested properly. 

Group B starchy foods such as sweet potato with protein such as chicken or a protein shake are best after a workout. The starchy carbs are easy to digest and therefore help you digest the protein faster, enabling these to reach your muscles quickly and allowing you to recover faster. Try to avoid fat post-workout as it slows down the absorption of protein. 

For meals, eat 3 solid meals a day, filling your plate with a fistful of protein, a load of veggies and a small amount of fat. Avoid added sugar, fast or processed foods! 

If you keep in mind the tips above on how to fuel your body and when, you can get the most out of your workout and keep your body in tip top shape.

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Elle Welsman

Elle owns Sydney's first women's CrossFit gym, CrossFit Tone in Brookvale. She has a passion for helping women realise how fit and healthy they can be through strength and high intensity training. Having a keen interest in positive body image, Elle pushes women to be self confident through her training systems. Click here to learn more about Elle Welsman and her outlook and approach!