Laura Clark of LEC Nutrition gives her Top Tips!

Did the Olympic Games inspired you to get out and take advantage of some personal training? For athletes, nutrition is often described as a vital piece of the jigsaw alongside natural ability and training. Even for a novice athlete, what you put in your body and when will play a big part in getting the most from your new fitness regime. Here are some top tips:

Eat Regularly

Fuelling your body at regular intervals helps to keep your metabolism working efficiently and will give you the energy you need to exercise. Regular eating means a breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks in between if going longer than 3-4 hours between meals.

Make it balanced

Include some form of complex carbohydrate (found in bread, pasta rice, potatoes) some form of lean protein (meat, fish, eggs, pulses) and some sort of vegetable/ salad or fruit at each meal. Balanced meals help to regulate your blood sugar levels and keep your energy levels topped up so you’ve got fuel in the tank to exercise!

Know when to snack

If your last meal was a while ago it can be useful to have a snack about an hour before exercise to top you up for example fruit, yoghurt, malt loaf, oatcakes or some plain popcorn. If you’re exercising for weight loss, you obviously don’t want to put unnecessary calories in so have smaller meals and use the calories saved for a small pre-exercise snack to help you power through your session.

Remember exercise is not always a license to eat more

Don’t be fooled into thinking that a slow jog round the park might cancel out last night’s curry. Although exercise has many health benefits such as reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and fending off depression, try not to be unrealistic about how many calories you’ve burnt, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. For example walking for an hour burns approx. 180 calories, less than what you’d find in a standard sized chocolate bar.

Don’t be fooled by special sports products

Sports products have their place; the key is knowing when to use them to avoid extra calories you don’t need or throwing your money away. If exercising at a moderate to high intensity for over an hour you’ll need to top up your carbohydrate reserves in your muscles. This is where sports drinks or portable snacks like bananas or cereal bars can play a role. If you’re exercising for less than an hour you should only need water.
Protein shakes and bars are another confusing area. Despite what you often hear, protein requirements for most active people can genuinely be met easily through diet. It’s much more important to get the timing right rather than worry about the amount. To repair and re-fuel muscles, protein and carbohydrate taken together within 30 minutes of exercise is most effective. Great snacks for after a workout include a fruit smoothie, crackers and ham or yoghurt and fruit.

For more individualised advice, contact Laura at laura@lecnutrition.co.uk or on 07917 473 181 for a free 10 minute consultation.

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