Health & Fit: Are you fuelling your workout properly?

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Sometimes it's hard to know whether to eat prior to heading to the gym or out for a jog.

  Are you fuelling your workout properly? © Provided by Cover Media

Consuming too much can make you feel sick, while not enough and you'll end up light-headed.

However, Triyoga nutritional therapist Michele Scarr insists there is a happy medium depending on the type of exercise you are doing.

"A healthy diet to support exercise needs is as much about food quality as quantity. Processed, refined carbohydrates, and junk food should be definitely avoided," she advised. "When assessing the best nutrition to fuel your workout it also depends on what your personal goals are, for example, performance, muscle gain, weight loss...and of course, hydration is key!"

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Low-intensity workouts

Eating too soon before exercising, even with a low-impact class like yoga or Pilates, is not recommended and can cause abdominal cramping and discomfort.

"I recommend eating two hours before your class so the food has time to be digested and you feel comfortable. The bigger the meal, the longer the gap!" noted Michele. "I would always suggest focusing on hydration and replenishment of the glycogen stores after a yoga or Pilates class. Despite being a low-intensity workout, you still burn through some energy. I suggest a piece of fruit, an apple or a banana. Obviously, if you're doing any form of hot yoga or Pilates rehydrating should be the number one focus."

Mid-intensity workouts

"Mid-intensity workouts like gentle jogging require slow-release carbohydrates such as oats, wholemeal pasta or brown rice. Eat two to three hours before your workout to allow adequate time for digestion and nutrient absorption or you may feel heavy, nauseous and suffer cramping," the expert suggested. "Post-workout, replenish the glycogen stores and have some protein too. A banana or oat protein smoothie might be a good idea."

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High-intensity workouts

HIIT workouts or endurance exercises require a high-fibre, carbohydrate-rich meal two to three hours before.

"Chose brown wholegrain varieties over white fluffy carbs, for example, sweet potatoes, porridge, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, brown or wild rice, wholemeal pasta and vegetables," Michele listed. "Refuel after your HIIT workout 30 minutes to two hours afterwards. Carbohydrates will be needed to refuel the energy (glycogen) stores and protein in order to repair any muscle damage and support muscle growth. A good ratio would be 3:1 carbs: protein. Eating fat post-exercise will slow down absorption and the whole digestive process so avoid or keep to a minimum."

Can you work out on an empty stomach?

"Some people like to work out on an empty stomach and this is great if that suits you. It will help facilitate weight loss if that is your goal. Others can feel tired or lightheaded, so again it's a personal choice and you might want to see what works best with your schedule and how your body feels," she encouraged.

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