Exercise Nutrition to Maximise Fat Burn
Should you eat before exercising?
It's a common misconception that we must eat before exercise to ensure we have adequate energy. The truth is you’ll likely be fine training on an empty stomach if you're exercising for an hour or less. In fact, you'll more quickly dip into fat stores to fuel your workout if your goal is fat loss. That being said, it’s still most important to pay attention to your body – if you feel faint and weak exercising on an empty tummy, have food first, of course.
One more thing is to ensure you begin each workout hydrated. A natural electrolyte drink is always a good idea to bring with you. Try filtered water with a pinch of coloured salt and squeeze of lemon or coconut water.
If you intend to do a longer training session (+90 minutes) and/or focus on building strength and stamina, eating carbohydrates and high-quality fats beforehand will enable the slow release of energy to fuel these types of training.
Food suggestions include:
- Pot-set coconut yoghurt with a handful of berries
- A banana with macadamia butter
- A smoothie with Happy Weight powder
- An omelette with avocado
- Sprouted bread with nut butter, a sprinkle of chia and a banana
Keep the meal you choose quite moderate and not too close to your workout time. The main reason for this is that you want your blood and energy focused on your muscles and heart where you need it most, rather than on digestion.
What about post-workout food?
We’ve all heard that it’s important to eat within thirty minutes to an hour after a workout in order to prevent muscle breakdown. This makes sense as exercise puts us in a catabolic state and burns energy, therefore we should replenish. However, please first consider these two points if you’re looking to burn fat:
Our glycogen stores are the sugars available in our muscles which, along with whatever sugar is in our bloodstream, fuel our workout.
When we train, we burn through this fairly quickly and then the body moves onto our fat stores to fuel us. This is where the fat burning magic happens. Why then would we immediately replenish with carbohydrates after a workout which can spike our insulin levels and negate the fat-burning state?
Our meals can take 24 hours or more to be processed by the body and for nutrients to reach their destination.
That means the meal you ate yesterday is actually partly refuelling your session rather than the meal you're racing home to consume.
This does not necessarily mean that you should skip post-training food. Rather, this is simply information to make you realise the importance of eating a complete and balanced diet ALL THE TIME because we want to make sure that the nutrients you need are always available to:
- fuel a workout
- repair muscle and promote growth
Additionally, the types of foods you choose matter greatly – not all carbohydrates are created the same and along with proteins, they affect your insulin levels in different ways. Learn more about quality food choices here.
Lastly, if you have compromised digestion you may need to focus on choosing proteins post-workout since they’re more easily absorbed after training. Happy Weight powder, fermented in a smoothie, is a good choice for getting that post-workout protein fix.