Nutrition for athletic performance and training recovery
Updated: Jun 2, 2021
Melani De Sousa, The Wellness Workshop founder & 2019 Personal Trainer of the Year Australia
Pre-training & during training
To aid optimal wellbeing and functioning, ensure you're getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals from whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes. Choose carbohydrate-rich foods to aid energy requirements pre-training and protein-dense foods for recovery and muscle repair after.
PRE-TRAINING MEAL IDEAS IDEAS:
Bowl of cereal with chopped fruit & yoghurt
Crumpets with sliced banana & drizzle of honey
Small bowl of pasta with a tomato-based sauce
Raisin toast with jam
Last meal 2-4 hours before exercise
Optional snack 1-2 hours before exercise
Sip on fluids in the hours leading up to training, rather than large amounts at once
Food should be high in carbs, low in fiber, easy to digest & tailored to what works for you
DURING TRAINING TIPS:
Needs depend on intensity, duration and goal of the activity
No need to top up on fuel sources if less than 60-90 minutes
Top up with carbohydrate-rich sources if required for higher intensity/longer sessions
Consume bananas, gel bars, muesli bars, honey or even jam sandwiches
POST-TRAINING & RECOVERY
Nutrition after activity not only helps refuel and rehydrate the body but also assists in creating positive adaptations from the session while aiding proper immune system functioning. i.e. reduces the probability you'll get sick. RECOVERY MEALS SHOULD INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
Carbohydrate (to replenish energy)
Protein (for muscle repair/development)
Fluids & electrolytes (to replace losses through sweat)
RECOVERY MEAL IDEAS:
Lean chicken and salad roll
Bowl of muesli with yoghurt and berries
Spaghetti with lean beef bolognese sauce
Chicken burrito with salad and cheese
Small tin of tuna on crackers plus a banana
RECOVERY MEAL TIPS:
Most effective refuelling in the first 60-90 minutes after exercise
Refuelling continues over the next 12-24 hours, meaning you can also wait till your next main meal if you don't feel hungry.
Want one-on-one tailored nutrition advice to improve your performance on and off the field? Book an appointment with our Accredited Practising Dietitian.
how much protein do i really need?
How much protein you need will depend on your age and weight, and if you have any other conditions that may influence your requirements.
TO MAXIMISE MUSCLE GROWTH IT IS RECOMMENDED TO:
Spread protein intake across the day
Ensure your post-workout meal contains an easily absorbable protein source
Ensure you have enough fuel during exercise from good quality carbohydrates
game day preparations
You may need a pre-game meal 3-4 hours before the match
The meal should contain carbohydrates, fluids and a small amount of protein. e.g. chicken salad sandwich, beef stir fry with rice, muesli with yoghurt and berries
You may also feel like a snack 1-2 hours before the game (see 'pre-training' examples)
Top up on carbohydrates across the match as needed - if you don't feel like food, try an energy gel from a health food store or supermarket
After the match, if you don't feel like eating much, try a carbohydrate and protein drink such as a fruit and yoghurt smoothie or flavoured milk
Alcohol and exercise
Who doesn't love to celebrate after a great win with a cold drink? Keep in mind alcohol slows down muscle growth and recovery, and can also interfere with your sleep quality. The Australian Guidelines recommend no more than 2-3 drinks per day for 18+ adults.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW DO I PREVENT FATIGUE?
Get at least 7-9 hours of solid sleep
Have adequate amounts of çorrectly timed carbs
Eat a variety of foods
Stay hydratedGet checked for vitamin deficiencies
Reduce screen time & blue light exposure
DO I NEED TO HAVE SPORTS DRINKS?
Plain water for fluid replacement for lighter training
Sports drinks for more intense training/games for fuel and electrolytes
SHOULD I BE TAKING SUPPLEMENTS?
Generally, these are not necessary! Diet supplements to enhance performance can be dangerous for your health, but work with your Dietitian or Dr to get a specific answer
WHAT ABOUT ALL THE COMPANIES/WEBSITES/INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS GIVING PEOPLE ADVICE?
Be really careful about who you listen to and where you get advice from. Ask yourself if their recommendations are evidence-based? Are their claims substantiated? Do they have a relevant qualification in Australia? Do your research and be smart about who you listen to.
Want one-on-one tailored nutrition advice for improving your performance on and off the field? Book an appointment with our Accredited Practising Dietitian today. Plus we can let you know if you're eligible for Private Health Cover & Medicare Rebates.