Learn how to best support your body while you’re exercising – what are your nutrition requirements, when and what to eat and supplements to consider to help performance or manage injury – with this know-how from WF naturopath Belinda Kirkpatrick…

The growing trend towards healthier, ‘cleaner’ living means that many of us are adding regular exercise to our already busy lifestyles. While this is most definitely a very good thing, we need to be aware of potential extra nutrition requirements and injury prevention strategies to keep our health and our bodies in tip-top shape. We know we need to get enough protein to our diets but often forget that carbohydrates are also important. This general guide is designed for those who are doing reasonably intense exercise sessions such as bootcamps, cardio and F45 type training.

Pre-workout

The decision whether to train with an empty stomach or not really depends on the individual and how they feel and how long they are training for. For training sessions of one hour or less, a small carbohydrate-containing snack 20-30 minutes before training is ideal (or nothing if you prefer). Good choices if you choose to snack pre-workout include a banana, dates, toast or juice. Most of us don’t need a pre-workout supplement but if you need some extra help with energy or are really keen to try something look for one containing ingredients such as creatine, L-arginine, beta-alanine and B vitamins to optimize your energy and performance. Many pre-workout products also contain caffeine so be sure to check, if you’re sensitive to caffeine.

Post-workout

This is the time to enjoy some carbohydrate-containing foods! If you’re someone who hits the wall in the afternoon, you’re probably not getting enough carbs after exercise. To get the most out of your workout, stimulate muscle recovery, boost energy, increase insulin release and reduce cortisol levels, you need to get some carbs and protein in within 30-60 minutes post-workout. This might include a smoothie with protein powder, banana, berries and milk OR eggs with sweet potato and pumpkin OR natural yoghurt with oats and fruit OR brown rice with egg and green veggies. Post-workout is the time to take your vitamin C and gelatin powder for connective tissue repair and support in addition to boosting your immune system. Sweating during your workout causes magnesium levels to drop which can lead to low energy, poor sleep and muscle cramps and spasms – try drinking chlorophyll liquid as a quick and budget-friendly way to boost your magnesium levels.

Water

It’s super important to stay well hydrated and drink enough water. A fluid loss of even 2 percent of your body mass can mean 20-30 percent less power and speed in your workouts as well as the potential for headaches and cramps. Your body can only absorb around 1.2L per hour so try to space out your water intake throughout the day instead of guzzling it all at once!