The Fitness Zone
According the Australian Guide for Healthy eating, each day the average Aussie should be consuming a variety of food from the five food groups. But, when we are following these guidelines, does it actually matter when we eat? We spoke to Shirley Muijselaar, Nutrition and Massage Coach for the Australian Institute of Fitness, SA, to further understand the fundamentals about nutrition and to find the answer as to whether the timing of our meals actually matters.
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Regular Meals?
There are many benefits of eating regular meals, it is a great way to keep your energy levels well balanced and your mind alert throughout the day, and it can also assist you to include the right balance of serves from the five food groups.
One of the most recognised benefits, is that found by those who are making changes to their nutritional choices as, eating regularly can help prevent that feeling of Hanger (Hanger = Hunger + Angry). Eating regularly will also help to maintain a healthy metabolism.
This being said, it is recommended that each individual eat at least three meals a day. If you are training often, or require more energy, including a healthy snack(s) such as fruit, vegetables, nuts etc. is a great idea.
What About Nutrition Pre and Post Workout?
To improve your physical performance it’s important to plan your nutrition intake around your workouts.
When training for up to 90 minutes at a moderate level, a pre-workout meal with carbohydrates is extremely important to maintain your energy levels. Ideally, you should eat two-three hours before your workout in order for this pre-work to digest. If weight-loss or fat loss is your goal, then the timing of a pre-workout snack is important, as if you eat too close to your workout, the energy you expend will be fueled directly by what is in your stomach, not by your fat stores. A pre-workout meal should be relatively high in energy (but not higher than the amount of energy required for the workout), and could include, a banana, fruit or yoghurt.
For physical exercise that last longer than a couple of hours at a moderate level, e.g. running a full marathon, your body may require to be refueled along the way. Muscle glycogen is stored in your body but the best energy for performance will only last for 1 ½ - 3 hours during moderate to high intensity exercise. A snack high in carbohydrates and electrolytes, like bananas, muesli bars, energy bars, sandwiches or sport drinks, can be consumed to refuel the body.
Post workout meals or snacks, are just as important as after training you need to refuel, repair and rehydrate your body. The food or drink that you consume after a workout will be best absorbed within 30 minutes after your workout. And of course, don’t forget to drink plenty of water for rehydration.
Does When you Eat Actually Matter?
Whether you are exercising or not, when you eat definitely matters. Nutrition intake that is well planned is more likely to include all the nutrients you need for the day and it will help you to avoid making poor food choices.
If you are looking to improve your physical performance, planning your nutritional intake is essential as it will assist to supply you with enough energy during exercise, and it will improve the recovery after a workout.
If you would like to learn more about nutrition why not become a Nutrition Coach!