Post-training nutrition: 5 quick tips
You might have your training at a gym or health club across Melbourne sorted, but what about your nutrition? Read below for five quick tips around eating and drinking after exercise.
1. Water, water, water
We need water to live, and when we sweat hydration levels in our body drop. Replenish these stores with water. If you endurance train for longer than two hours, sports drinks or chocolate milk can provide some functional benefits such as the minimisation of fatigue. However, unless you’re training for something like a marathon, they’re best avoided, especially if you’re looking to lose weight. Similarly, alcohol post-workout impede exercise-related muscle damage and even induce swelling if you’re already injured.
It’s important to eat after exercise, and don’t wait too long! Aim to have something within 30 minutes of your workout to prevent blood sugar dips and keep your metabolism firing. If you’re not hungry post-workout, this need not be a full meal; a banana and a handful of raw nuts is a great, portable snack. Don’t forget to plan ahead to ensure you have healthy and timely food that best complements your workout. Cooking a little extra or putting aside some of your regular portion is also a great way to have lunch ready for the next day.
If you want a more specific post-workout plan, you should seek the advice of an accredited professional like a dietician. Your trainer can provide basic food-related information, but they should not be suggesting supplements or the removal of certain food groups even if you have a known intolerance. You should also be cautious of purchasing eating plans, especially if they’re from an organisation or person with no dietetics qualification (even if they are shredded). Healthy guidelines are available for free, including serving sizes, nutrient calculators and meal plans from evidence-based sources such as eatforhealth.gov.au.
4. Portions and serves
A standard serving size is set amount based on dietary guidelines so you can track how much you are eating. For vegetables, this is typically 75grams or ½ cup, except for green leafy items which is 1 cup. A fruit serving a medium piece or two small pieces. 1 Slice or half a medium roll or flatbread makes up a serving of grain or ½ cup of cooked rice/pasta/noodles/other grains. For protein, about 100 grams when raw is a good size as meat will shrink, or 1 cup of legumes or beans and 30 grams nuts, seeds or tahini. In the dairy et al. department go for 1 cup of milk, ¾ cup of yoghurts, 40 grams of cheese for a standard serve.
Your portion is how much you actually eat. Therefore, if you’re looking to lose weight, in particular, check your actual portion against the standard serving size and adjust accordingly. Don’t eat too little, but monitoring how much you consume for a while will quickly allow you to adjust habits to meet your nutritional requirements.
The simplest way many people remember what to consume is to think about the natural rainbow, and eating as many colourful foods in their most natural state. This means vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, proteins, legumes and dairy (or alternatives). A ‘natural’ state includes cooked or raw items and is a reminder avoid processed foods and check labels of packaged items for sugar, salt and saturated fat content. Alongside exploring with food combinations, herbs, spices, fresh lime and lemon are great ways to stay interested in healthy eating, especially if the thought of plain boiled veg or chicken is a little underwhelming.