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Fuelling your exercise.

The other day we were asked about the best way of fuelling exercise. How do you ensure that you have enough fuel for the exercise, and then how you repair your body post exercise.

In this blog we write about pre exercise, post exercise, fasted exercise and its impact on your body, and lastly if undertaking longer exercise sessions such as a long bike, walk or marathon - planning your nutrition.



Firstly pre-exercise ensure that you are hydrated. Water is important. Food wise, you need to start looking at fuelling your workout.

Cutting out carbohydrates is not necessarily the right option. Carbs are needed to fuel a higher intensity workout.

Having a good portion of slow releasing carbohydrates is best. Sweetened Oats is a great option. Alternatively other options can be brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa or other whole grains are good. Supplementing this with a piece of fruit helps increase sugar naturally in your body.

Regardless pre exercise you need to allow your body time to break down the food, to enable your body to store the energy.

If you have a meal 2-3 hours before exercise having something more substantial will break down and give you longer lasting energy. Ideas such as Chicken Salad Wholemeal Sandwich, Tuna and Bean Salad or Turkey and Rice.

If you have 1-2 hours then something like a protein smoothie, nut butter on toast. This will give a blend of slow releasing carbohydrates and some faster releasing carbohydrates.

If you are under an hour, do not put off eating. You still need to fuel your body. A piece of fruit, or a homemade rice cake would work.


Post Exercise

Post exercise is just as crucial as eating pre exercise. The body when exercising uses up glycogen stores and damages the muscles in your body. Through exercising it causes micro tears in muscles which the body naturally repairs. These tears make your body stronger. It is important to replace these stores within 30 minutes post exercise.

The body can only absorb around 20g to 25g of protein, and naturally creating this intake post exercise will help the body recover.

Simple recovery can consist of:

  • Milkshake - 500ml of milk and banana or chocolate will aid recovery

  • Lean Meat - a chicken breast or soya alternative

  • Yoghurt and Granola

  • Yoghurt and Berries (also could be blended into a smoothie)

What is very important is that you continue to hydrate. The body has lost fluids during exercise and it needs water to function effectively.

Sometimes post exercise your body will not feel like it wants to consume food. The acids that the body create whilst exercising confuse this with the body being well fuelled. This is more important to fuel at this stage. Eating something small and often over the recovery window will aid the body in restoring its glycogen stores.


Energy Products

On the market are several products that may aid your work out, your preparation or your recovery post exercise.

Energy products are typically made up of three key categories:

  1. hydration - pre exercise

  2. energy - during

  3. recovery - after

Hydration: this is key to allow the body to take on electrolytes and to enable the body to operate to its optimum. Small regular sips of a drink is key. Your urine should be clear, and if you feel thirsty - its too late. Get drinking before you feel you need more drink.

Energy: Our bodies hold roughly 90 minutes of carbohydrates. If you are exercising over this you need to consider how these stores are replenished. Reality is our bodies are like a car or a machine. You need to fuel it to enable this to continues. When training to gain to peak performance it often could be that you are tempted to avoid eating to reduce weight. Eating in a moderated way will ensure that you lose weight appropriately for the exercise.

Recovery: our bodies need protein and carbohydrates to recover and aid the body to begin to repair itself. The body can only process between 20g - 25g of protein. Advice suggests that consuming this within the 30 minutes post exercise helps the body absorb the protein.


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