Best Workout Fuel

by | Feb 10, 2014 | Nutrition


“Eating before exercise, as opposed to exercising in the fasting state, has been shown to improve performance,” says registered dietician Megan Pentz-Kluyts.

Shaun Balliah: “A banana with a cup of black coffee.”
Pentz-Kluyts says: “I would advise Shaun to add in some protein or even make a smoothie by adding low-fat milk to the banana and consuming it a bit closer to his workout session. This will also help with maintaining hydration. The effect of the caffeine from the coffee may be more closely related to its stimulant effect, making you feel more energised and decreasing perceived exertion. A performance-enhancing effect can be seen from as low as 1mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. The average cup of filter coffee has in the region of 100mg of caffeine per cup.”

Mark Cawood: “I have some almonds and slow carbs like brown rice or sweet potato about an hour before. It’s good for energy, but I avoid protein – it’s heavy and takes a while to metabolise. Then a pre-workout from Gaspari or MuscleTech half an hour before. These have lots of amino acids to prevent muscle breakdown and some stimulants like caffeine and guarana to get a good pump and focus.”
Pentz-Kluyts says: “Ideally, Mark may want to consider having the brown rice and nuts about 90 minutes to two hours before as they take a bit longer to digest. Foods eaten 60 minutes or less before an exercise session should be relatively low in fat and fibre to facilitate gastric emptying and minimise gastrointestinal distress, high in carbohydrates to maintain blood glucose and maximise glycogen stores and preferably moderate in protein. Mark doesn’t say which product he’s taking from Gaspari or Muscle Tech, but if it’s a pre-exercise product, a combination of more quick release carbs and protein/amino acids may work well.”

Nathan Rundle: “A smoothie with pine-apple, kiwi, banana with ice and half a cup of fat-free milk with a cup of black coffee 
(no sugar).”
Pentz-Kluyts says: “This is a good option which has more readily digested carbs, together with a bit of protein from the milk. Milk contains intact high-quality protein and it’s a fat-free option, which will assist with gastric emptying – it’s preferable not to have a full stomach before exercise.”

Sean Andrew Sanders: “Watermelon or any light fruit. It’s got the fructose you need for some energy.”
Pentz-Kluyts says: “A good choice, as long as Sean has had a meal or more substantial snack two to four hours prior. Otherwise, add a bit of low-fat yoghurt.”

William Lloyd: “One cup oats, 400ml eggs and a Granny Smith apple.”
Pentz-Kluyts says: “Oats and an apple are both good slow-release carb options, but might be a bit too close to the exercise session. The 400ml of eggs sounds like too much protein. Although resistance exercise may necessitate protein intake in excess of 
the RDA (additional protein, essential amino acids in particular, is needed along with sufficient energy to support muscle growth), the general amount recommended is more conservative in nature and directed more at recovery.”


According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the amino acid leucine promotes maximum protein synthesis. “An ideal supplement following resistance training should contain whey protein that provides at least 3g of leucine per serving,” says Pentz-Kluyts.

Ryan Botha: “Cooled oats mixed with my Biogen whey protein.”
Pentz-Kluyts says: “The combination of carbs and protein is important in the early recovery phase. It promotes the release of the hormone insulin which stimulates muscle glycogen replenishment as well as the transport of amino acids into muscle cells which will help to rebuild muscle. This action also blunts the rise in cortisol, a stress hormone that would otherwise follow exercise. Cortisol suppresses the rate of muscle rebuilding and tends to stimulate protein breakdown. Oats that have been cooled have an even lower GI, but your muscles are like sponges post-exercise, so a higher GI is best. Enjoy it warm, add some sugar or honey. Ryan could also add milk to his oats.”

Shaun Balliah: “A whey protein shake and an English muffin topped off with two eggs.”
Pentz-Kluyts says: “Shaun has included an English muffin which has a higher glycaemic index providing a readily available source of carbohydrate for muscle glycogen recovery. This is a good choice and should be the major carbohydrate choice in recovery meals. It’s a good idea is that Shaun includes fluid to aid in rehydration.”

Nathan Rundle: “Eight egg whites with two normal eggs, a cup of oats with a scoop of whey and a tablespoon of peanut butter.”
Pentz-Kluyts says: “Nathan has chosen good sources of protein. However, it is quite a high intake of protein post-exercise. Currently, recommendations regarding protein supplementation are conservative and directed primarily at optimising the recovery period after exercise. Carb-rich foods that are faster acting (with a moderate to high glycaemic index) eaten immediately after exercise provide a more readily available source of carbohydrates for muscle glycogen recovery, since they’re easily assimilated into blood glucose (blood sugar) and become ready fuel.”

Mark Cawood: “A good serving of protein! Either fish or chicken and some slow carbs.”
Pentz-Kluyts says: “Carbs and protein are always a good combination. Just try and make sure that it is 
a good helping of carbs with protein. More readily available carbs are also a good choice post-exercise. And for the most benefit, aim to eat regularly each day.”

Sean Andrew Sanders: “A rice cracker, with half an avo spread on it, some fresh sliced tomato on top, and fair amount of salt and pepper, to really get all the flavours going!”
Pentz-Kluyts says: “Sean’s choice includes healthy fats and some antioxidants, but it is very low on carbs and protein. I suggest he up the number of rice crackers, as they are more fast-acting carbs and add some chicken or a chocolate milk.”

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