The benefits of good nutrition are abundant; it fuels us to perform our daily tasks and can go far beyond just exercise. Fuelling our bodies appropriately can help with all areas of our lives; enhancing your training, increasing your performance at work by sustaining focus and productivity, and in your social lives. When nutrition is optimised, training and performance is enhanced, fatigue is reduced, motivation and mood regulation is increased, and risk of injury and illness is lowered.
However, it can be hard to know what to eat/drink before and after a workout for optimal performance and recovery. KX Trainer and Master in Sports Nutrition, Chloe Otte from our St. Mary’s studio in Adelaide, shares her tips to help you understand how to fuel your body to ensure you have enough energy to sustain the 50-minute, high-intensity, dynamic workout, so you get the most out of your classes!
Pre-workout nutrition is important to ensure you’re adequately fuelled for the exercise you plan on doing. Prior to a workout, we tend to use up some of our energy stores to complete our daily activities (e.g. walking, getting dressed, etc.). We want to top up any stores which have dropped throughout the day to give us enough energy to complete our workout.
Aim to drink 2 litres of water every day. At least 2–4-hours before a workout, try to drink 5-10ml per kg of body mass to ensure sufficient hydration. If you’re attending a 5:30am class, ensure you’re meeting the 2 litre target the day before so you’re adequately hydrated. To test your hydration levels, check your wee colour first thing in the morning as this tells us if we’re adequately hydrated or not. If the colour is light and clear this means you’re well hydrated, but if it’s dark yellow this means you need to drink more water before a class!
Timing your nutrition around your KX workout has additional benefits to help you get the most out of your performance. Eating carbohydrate-rich foods beforehand is important to sustain energy levels during a class. Try to eat within 1 hour – 30 minutes prior to a workout to give your body enough time to break down the foods and fluids, to give you energy! If you haven’t got much time before a class, go for something liquid-based as they are even quicker at releasing this energy.
Although all nutrients are essential for a balanced and healthy diet, carbohydrates will be the predominant fuel source for a KX workout.
As the intensity of exercise increases, carbohydrates become the main energy source. Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles, which break down into glucose molecules to provide us with a quick release of energy! Whereas, fats simply cannot produce energy fast enough to sustain high intensity exercise. Due to the nature of a KX workout, carbohydrates will provide the best fuel for when we need that extra boost of energy to help us push or hold for that extra second of effort, essentially, allowing us to work harder for longer.
To get the best bang for your buck, try some of these snack ideas 1 hour – 30 minutes before a class:
After a workout, our energy stores are depleted and our muscles are fatigued. Therefore, we need to refuel our energy stores so we can continue on with the rest of our day as well as help our muscles recover appropriately which will also help to prevent injury.
Hydration is important every day but even more so after a workout! After a class, try to drink 400-800ml of water to replace any fluid lost from sweat. Keep an eye on your wee colour to determine how much more water you need to rehydrate after a class and maintain hydration across the rest of the day!
Eating foods high in carbohydrates and proteins after your workout will help to facilitate a quicker recovery, build muscle, and replenish your energy stores. There is a short period after exercise called the ‘anabolic window’ which is where you want to try and get all the nutrients we just used up, back into our bodies. This window typically spans across the first 2 hours post-workout and will be important for a quicker recovery as this is where the muscles act to resynthesise and build to create a stronger you.
It is important to note that there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to nutrition. However, there are general nutrition guidelines surrounding the quantity and types of foods and nutrients we need to incorporate into our everyday diet, but these recommendations should be tailored to the individual.