Questions on sugar, fat, best foods for recovery, best fluids for during and after workouts, caffeine, carbohydrates, and supplements are some of the most frequently asked questions posed to sports nutritionists. Perhaps this advice will help you cut through the often conflicting information which is widely available.
Does Pre-Exercise Sugar Harm Performance?
Over 100 studies have concluded that consuming sugar within an hour before exercise will not harm your performance and the majority of athletes can enjoy pre-exercise sweets for a quick energy fix. However, some athletes are ‘sugar sensitive’ and consuming sugar ahead of a workout may lead to rebound hypoglycaemia. If you are sugar sensitive it’s best to avoid all sugars 15-45 minutes prior to exercise and instead consume it right before you begin exercising, or avoid it all together.
How Do I Gain Muscle and Lose Fat?
Unfortunately it’s difficult for the body to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time, as building muscle requires calories. As such, if you are using a calorie-restricted diet to lose unwanted body fat, your body will not have access to the calories required to build muscle, and will instead breakdown muscle to use as fuel. If you’re hoping to minimise muscle loss, it’s a good idea to use a diet with a small calorie deficit which will help you lose fat slowly while building muscle. If you’re planning on spending a day enjoying AFL premiership betting instead of training, we suggest increasing the calorie deficit.
What Are the Best Foods for Recovery?
After exhaustive exercise you should try to replenish carbohydrates, sodium, and water as soon as possible, especially if you’re going to be exercising again within the next 6 hours. Adding some protein to your post-exercise meal helps repair damaged muscles, reduce soreness, and will also enhance glycogen replacement in athletes that don’t eat enough carbohydrates. A simple suggestion is 470ml of chocolate milk, a handful of pretzels, and yoghurt, or a shake made with milk, powdered milk and a big banana.
What to Drink During and After Exercise?
Beverages which contain a little sodium such as sports drinks will help enhance fluid retention, but you could also consume sodium-rich foods before exercise, such as salted pretzels, salted oatmeal, or broth. How much you should drink will depend upon how much you lose in sweat during exercise. Weigh yourself before and after you exercise – losing 450 grams equates to 450ml of sweat which needs to be replaced.
Will a High-Fat Diet Enhance Fat Burning?
Athletes that burn more fat during exercise are able to burn fewer carbs and thereby spare their limited glycogen stores, which should (in theory) enhance endurance since depleted glycogen stores are associated with fatigue. However this practise is yet to be proven as enhancing performance and endurance and we still advise athletes that the best way to improve performance and endurance is to consume carbs during extended periods of exercise.
Best Dose of Caffeine for Performance?
The effects of caffeine differ greatly from person to person, but the suggested dosage equates to a 350ml mug of coffee one hour before exercising. If you’re looking for technicalities, you should consume 3mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. Higher doses of caffeine do not offer enhanced performance and could result in interruptions in sleep which could in turn harm performance.