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12 Mar 2024 - News

Don’t ruin your progress in the gym by not fuelling properly

How often have you went for your training session having had very little food in the hours building up to it or in some cases not even enough water.  The fact I am writing this suggests that it is fairly common amongst PT clients from time to time and something as a PT I want my clients and any gym goer to avoid.  

Proper fuelling before training sessions is essential for your goals, energy levels, strength, safety during the session and overall health. Here are some important reasons why you should be properly fuelled for each and every session:

1. Energy and performance: Eating before a workout provides the necessary energy to perform at your best. When you skip meals, energy levels will be low when you start to exert yourself, affecting overall performance and making the workout more challenging.  This can result in decreased stamina, fatigue, drops in overall performance and a lack of motivation to push through the workout.  Not the best way to utilise money invested in your health and wellbeing.  

2. Muscle preservation and growth: Consuming adequate nutrients before a workout helps preserve muscle mass and promotes muscle growth. Without proper fuel, the body may break down muscle tissue for energy, hindering progress and recovery.  This can result in muscle loss and hinder progress in building lean muscle mass.  

3. Focus and concentration: Proper nutrition ensures mental alertness and focus during training sessions. When you are properly fuelled, you can concentrate on technique, form, and maximise the benefits of the workout not to mention enjoy the sessions better.  

4. Injury prevention: Inadequate fuelling increases the risk of injury. When the body lacks nutrients, the muscles may become weaker, making them more prone to strains, sprains, and other injuries/illness.  

So the risks are pretty glaring; 

  • Poor performance
  • Loss of muscle 
  • Lack of enjoyment 
  • Increase likelihood of injury and illness.  

To help counter the issue of not eating enough before training sessions, here are some practical and easy-to-apply tips:

1. Prioritise breakfast: Make breakfast a non-negotiable meal. A balanced breakfast with protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats will provide sustained energy throughout the day.

2. Pack portable snacks: Portable snacks are handy to have when you are on the go.  Examples include protein bars, nuts, yogurts, or fruit. These snacks can be consumed before the session to boost energy levels.

3. Plan meals and snacks: Create a meal plan for the week, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Having a plan in place will ensure you have nutritious options readily available and reduces the likelihood of skipping meals.  Lack of planning suggest a lack of commitment to your goals.  If you are not committed it is maybe time to re assess the reasons why you started training in the first place.  

4. Pre-workout meal:  Have a balanced meal containing protein, carbohydrates, and a small amount of healthy fats about 1-2 hours before a workout. This will provide the necessary fuel for optimal performance.  If your training sessions are not close to meal times this is where your snacks will come in to play.  

5. Hydration: Stay hydrated throughout the day. Proper hydration is vital for energy levels and overall performance during training, start the day with a glass of water and take a water bottle to work to sip throughout the day.  Potentially consider an electrolyte tablet if you sweat a lot and are going to be doing endurance exercise in the heat.

What if I train first thing in the morning?  Training first thing in the morning doesn’t really allow enough time to eat a proper meal before the session.  My advice would be to make sure you hydrate well prior to the session by having some water as soon as you get up, then when the session is over have a post workout meal.  Personally if I train early morning I usually have a banana and a little protein powder with water so that I am not hungry and have something in the system.  During the session I would sip water.

Remember, it’s important to always consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist for personalised nutritional advice.  

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Barry Stephen.