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Nutrition Australia: Eat like a race car for healthy living

The world of health and wellness can be a confusing place. The trick is - keep it simple.

To make the most of your workouts, follow these three top tips from Jennifer McLaren, Accredited Practising Dietitian at Nutrition Australia.


“Think of your body like a race car, you’re not going to expect a car to function without fuel,” Jennifer said.


No matter what fitness goals you’re working towards, whether it’s strength, cardiovascular health, endurance or rehabilitation, nutrition is vital in supporting your body’s response to exercise.


The truth is, no matter how hard you’re training, you can’t exercise your way out of a non-nutritious diet.


Tip #1 – Fuel before and after exercise

To optimise your performance, it is essential to fuel your body.


Well before you intend to exercise, start drinking water to ensure that you’re hydrated and ready for a sweat session. Jennifer recommends setting a reminder two to three hours before a workout to begin drinking water, which can keep you on the right track. For optimal pre-workout nutrition, Jennifer suggests opting for carbohydrates, such as toast with honey or jam, to give you an energy boost.


Be sure to limit fat and fibre if you’re eating within an hour of working out, as this can slow down the release of energy, as well as increase the likelihood of cramps.


Once you’ve done the hard work, you need to refuel to enhance your recovery. It can be anything from spaghetti bolognese to a sandwich with protein. If you eat a protein-rich meal within two hours of exercise, the amino acids in the protein can do their best work in repairing your muscles.


Tip #2 – Practice what you eat


If you’re training for a competition or race, routine is your friend.


The last thing you want after months of training is for your performance to be compromised on event day due to an upset stomach.


If you practice eating the same meals or snacks before training, you’ll learn what works best for your body.


What works for one person might not work for another.


Tip #3 – Follow the five Rs

For peak recovery, you can follow the five R model:


  1. Repair – Eat protein to help repair your fatigued muscles.

  2. Refuel – Consume carbohydrates to refuel your body after you’ve spent energy.

  3. Revitalise – Eat a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables for essential nutrients.

  4. Rehydrate – Drink water to replace what you lost during your workout.

  5. Rest – So that your body can repair, it is essential to build periods of rest into your training plan.

Eating enough protein doesn’t need to be expensive.

For more budget-friendly sources of protein, consider options like tinned tuna, tofu, lentils or chickpeas.


If you struggle to eat solid foods after a workout, a smoothie can be a great option.

Not only can you pack it with fruit or vegetables but if you add a protein powder, you can make the most of that muscle repairing protein.


Jennifer recommends whey protein or pea and brown rice protein as these are ‘complete proteins’.


Exercise is part of the picture but if you want to optimise your general health, then fuelling effectively before and after training is essential.


Build rest and repair into your training schedule to avoid injuries and burnout. Add a little more routine to your fuelling and you’ll see the benefits in no time. For more great tips, information and recipes, visit the website below.


By Amelia Baines, Nutrition Australia




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