For those exercising more than once per day (less than eight hours between sessions), it is important to replenish
carbohydrate stores quickly and to provide protein for muscle repair as well as a good mix of vitamins and minerals to support immune function.
However most people will only complete one exercise session per day or less and so this is unnecessary. However, whenever the next meal is after the exercise session it should contain good quality protein, complex carbohydrate and a mixture of vegetables.
Does the type of activity you are doing affect what you should eat?
The type of activity does affect nutritional requirements particularly in regard to
the amount of carbohydrate and protein required. Those focusing on building their endurance fitness by doing large volumes of cycling, running, swimming etc. will need a greater intake of carbohydrate than those participating in more short sharp bursts of activity or weight training. Those wanting
to build more muscle, strength and power
around training sessions. Taking on board some protein after a weight training session helps to maximize muscle development.
Around 20g protein is sufficient for most people and in combination with some carbohydrate the overall effect will be
to enhance protein production, restore glycogen stores and may reduce muscle soreness. Milk and milkshakes are convenient options, containing 20g good quality protein per pint.
What about drinking? What and how much should you be drinking before / during / after exercise?
It is important to be well hydrated before exercising. Recommendations1 on the amount of fluid to consume prior to exercise, include drinking 5 – 7ml per kg of body weight steadily throughout the four hours before exercise and then, if the urine is still dark,
a further 3 – 5ml per kg should be consumed during the two hours before exercise.
It is recommended fluids be taken on board for any exercise lasting over 30 minutes.
For most people taking part in recreational activity, water is sufficient. Those people participating in more intense exercise for longer periods of time, i.e. 1 – 2 hours or more, may benefit from a sports drink, which will provide some carbohydrate energy and help replace electrolyte losses. There is some evidence that even during shorter periods of exercise (30 – 75min), mouth rinsing with a carbohydrate solution can improve performance through a mechanism via the central nervous system.
After exercise the fluid required to replace losses should ideally be consumed within two hours to ensure that optimal hydration is achieved as soon as possible if there is
a further exercise session planned that day. 1 kg weight loss equates roughly to 1 litre fluid loss. For every kg of weight lost, 1.25
– 1.5 litres of fluid is needed to replace it due to the continuing loss of sweat after exercise finishes and the urine losses that persist even in the dehydrated state. If large amounts of sweat have been lost, a fluid containing electrolytes would be useful to replace losses.
will need to look particularly at the timing
of their protein and carbohydrate intake