Let’s keep this uber specific to high intensity training (e.g. F45 & CrossFit). Firstly, we each contain the necessary energy (carbs, fat & protein) our muscles need to train as hard as we can for 60 minutes. This is based on the assumption you have the big ticket items discussed in Part 1 in place. This includes 3 nutritious main meals and healthy snacks in between.
Part 2 will focus on fuelling for training and recovery. This is an area full of misinformation, confusion and false promises. Let’s set the record straight.
Fuelling your training and recovery
The following information is based on the most common questions I’ve received over the years from people that subscribe to high intensity training.
Should I eat something before training?
Yes – if you haven’t eaten anything since the previous night and you are training before work/first thing in the morning:
If you are eating more than 60 - 120 minutes before your training session you could afford to eat some more substantial carbohydrates (e.g. porridge, muesli, yoghurt with fruit)
If you are eating less than 60 minutes before training, go for carbohydrate which is easier to digest (e.g. piece of fruit, small fruit juice/smoothie)
Nb: It’s ok to train fasted, however, you may find that you can go harder if you implement the above.
Yes – if you haven’t eaten anything since lunch time and you are training after work/late afternoon:
Similar to the recommendations for the morning, make sure you eat some easily digestible carbohydrate (e.g. fruit, starchy veggies, 100% fruit or veggie juice) within 60 minutes of training
No – If you are training after work and you have eaten a balanced lunch and a healthy snack mid-afternoon.
When and what should I eat after training?
During training, protein synthesis (formation of protein) is depressed and protein breakdown increases. In fact, protein breakdown may persist after exercise. This situation is exacerbated when people follow a low carbohydrate meal pattern, as protein in the muscles, instead of carbohydrate, is used as a fuel source.
So the goal in recovery, especially if your goal is to lose weight, tone up, or increase muscle mass, is to minimise this protein leaching out of your muscles.
Eating between 20 – 30 grams of protein, containing essential amino acids (e.g. leucine, isoleucine, valine) within the first hour post-training is key. This helps to switch your muscles from breaking down protein, to building protein, and therefore muscle.
The most bioavailable (absorbable) source of protein comes from foods including: lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy. If you can’t eat any of these within an hour post-training, perhaps a protein supplement (e.g. whey protein isolate) could help. See below examples containing 10 grams of protein:
35 grams cooked lean beef/pork/lamb
40 grams skinless cooked chicken
50 grams cooked fish, or canned tuna/salmon
1 cup milk, or 200 grams of yoghurt
2 small eggs
2 cups cooked pasta
3 cups cooked rice
60 grams nuts & seeds
1 cup of soy milk
It is important to note that eating some carbohydrate with your recovery protein will enhance the recovery process. This increases the amount of protein your muscle cells can absorb, whilst replenishing your glucose (energy stores). It’s win win. See below protein and carbohydrate combinations:
Lean chicken and salad roll
Bowl of muesli with yoghurt and berries
Fresh fruit salad topped with Greek yoghurt
Spaghetti with lean beef bolognaise sauce
Chicken burrito with salad and cheese
Small tin of tuna on crackers plus a banana
One serve whey-derived protein shake (WPI) + 300ml low fat milk + 600ml sports drink
Contact Nutrition Nation for more personalised support and advice so that you can reach your goals sooner.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of this blog where I discuss some awesome supplements to enhance training and recovery.