Can I eat whatever I want when I exercise? That is a million dollar question. Surely if we are doing all the exercise, we are burning enough energy to be able to be a bit more relaxed around the foods that we are eating?

Though there is something to be said for ‘calories in vs calories out’, if you’re not fuelling your body wisely while you are in a good exercise routine you are absolutely not getting enough bang for your exercise buck!

Nourishing your body with wholesome, nutritious food is still vital, maybe even more so when it comes to eating around exercise.

And if you’re not getting the right kinds of fuel on board while you’re exercising don’t be surprised if progress eludes you!

eat exercise


Eating before a workout


If you are an early riser and train first thing in the morning it can be beneficial to fuel up before you workout. A lot of people like to eat before they exercise, but it really depends on the individual. If you are feeling sluggish or dizzy during your morning workout then it might be wise to try eating a small amount about 30 minutes before your session.

Also consider whether you’re hydrated before you train, while caffeine may help boost a workout it needs to be balanced out with proper hydration.

Exercising when dehydrated can lead to poor performance outcomes, including injury.


Pre-workout supplements – what are they and do I need them?


Pre-workout supplements are primarily used to enhance physical performance and energy levels. Research however, doesn’t back many of their supposed benefits. Most pre workouts are considered safe for healthy adults, but they aren’t essential for health and/or performance. If you’re someone who needs fuel before a session, more wholesome options include banana, peanut butter sandwich, a DIY energy drink/smoothie.



Eating after a workout


Fueling your body with the right foods can be vital for progress.

After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores as well as repair and regrow muscle fibres. Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It’s especially important to eat protein and carbohydrates after your workout (carbs are not the enemy!). You should always eat well after exercise!

You can consider a snack if your next meal is 2 or so hours away.

Good snack options after a weights session include yoghurt and fruit, chocolate milk, and cooked eggs. Essentially, more priority on protein.

For post cardio or endurance based workouts try oats, fruit and toast (as well as a hit of protein).

Ideally, consumption of protein and carbs post workout should happen within one hour of your session finishing.

If your next meal is coming up, make it a wholesome nutritious one with plenty of variety in nutrients.



What about during my workout?


The most important thing to consider whilst you’re exercising is to keep hydrated. For most, water is all you need here, especially if your goal is weight loss – stay away from the powerade/gatorade trap! Some people who are doing long, strength-based workouts like to eat during their workouts, but for the general population this is not necessary.

For an endurance athlete training or competing, intake of some carbs might be recommended for better performance. If you’re training for longer than 2 hours, here’s where you can get a hit of carbs from an energy drink such as powerade, hydralyte or lucozade. Or a glucose gel supplement can be handy.

But for your every-other-day 45 minute to one hour gym workout, water will see you though.



Water – do I need more if I’m exercising?


We all know that water intake is incredibly important. When we’re hydrated we function better as humans. Water regulates your body temperature and helps lubricate your joints. It helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy. If you are dehydrated, your body can’t perform optimally, we suffer consequences such as sluggishness, muscle cramps, dizziness, headaches and mistaken hunger.

As a rule of thumb we should consume at least 2 litres of water per day. But, should we be having more than this if we include exercise in our day?

When you exercise, your body temperature rises and your body sweats in order to try to return to its optimal temperature. As sweat evaporates from your skin, it removes heat from the body but it also means you lose fluid. So water intake to replace this lost fluid is vital.

So in short, the more you sweat, the more you need to replenish lost fluids. If you are exercising daily consider increasing your water intake.



In Summary


We know that exercise and nutrition come hand in hand, especially when we’re thinking about our overall health and wellbeing. What you eat, when you eat and the relationship between exercise and food are very important.

Whether your goals are weight loss or performance based, the right nutrition around your exercise is going to guide you better and faster towards your desired outcomes.


Want To Learn More?


Since COVID-19 entered our lives, we have aimed to deliver some great weekly information as to how you can remain healthy, productive and in good spirits. This blog post is the latest addition to a growing library of information. Click to read more on our dedicated COVID support blogs.


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