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Why good nutrition is an essential part of your exercise programme


We’ve all done it. Had a great workout and then treated ourselves to a massive piece of chocolate cake or an extra glass of wine because we ‘deserve it’. And while it’s okay to have a couple of treats (everything in moderation!), just because you exercise regularly you shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking you can eat exactly what you want. In fact, it’s one of the more common reasons why people don’t see the results they expect, as they use exercise as an excuse to indulge a little too often. 

The reality is if you want to get the most out of your training regime you need to make sure you are eating the right type of foods. This will not only improve your exercise performance but also enable you to meet your fitness goals. 

We take a look at what you should be eating as well as some of the foods to avoid. 

How does nutrition help with exercise? 

Eating a well-balanced diet ensures you get all the nutrients and calories you need to fuel your body for your daily activities and: 

  • Reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure 
  • Helps you sleep better 
  • Improves your overall sense of well-being 

The right nutrition also helps you exercise better by: 

  • helping you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  • increasing your amount of energy (great for that extra set of burpees!)
  • reducing the risk of injury and illness
  • helping ensure you recover quickly after exercise. 

Your nutritional requirements will depend on your exercise activities, their intensity and what you are trying to achieve. It’s why many professional athletes get personalised nutritional advice as part of their training plan, as they know exercise by itself isn’t enough if they want to achieve the best results. 

As a fully qualified personal trainer with qualifications that cover the importance of nutrition, I understand how to apply the principles of nutrition to support my client’s goals as part of their training programme.  Just ask, and I will be more than happy to provide you with advice on what you should be eating to maximise your fitness results. 

So, what is a healthy diet for exercise? 

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important whether you exercise or not, so it’s worth taking a look at the The Eatwell Guide which outlines what you should be eating. Its advice includes:

  • Eating at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day
  • Having some dairy 
  • Basing meals on higher fibre starchy foods such as potatoes, pasta, or rice 
  • Eating some protein
  • Drinking plenty of water 

And if you’re into fitness, then it’s definitely worth understanding a bit more about the types of food you should be eating. 

Eat the right kind of Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy and according to The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition about 50% of our food intake should come from them. However, make sure you are eating complex carbs found in wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, and beans, rather than the simple carbs found in processed foods and sweets.  

Review your protein intake: Protein is essential for building and repairing muscles as well as reducing muscle soreness. But contrary to popular belief it’s not the main source of fuel during exercise, that’s actually carbohydrates, so it’s important not to have too much protein as this will just increase your calorie intake which can lead to weight gain. 

If you are training for an event or exercising regularly, you should try and include a portion of protein with every meal to help your muscles grow and repair.  

Protein comes from food such as: 

  • Poultry – chicken and turkey 
  • Red meat – beef and lamb
  • Fish – salmon and tuna 
  • Dairy – milk, cheese, yoghurt 
  • Eggs 
  • Legumes – baked beans, lentils 

Make your fats healthy: Fats are a primary fuel for aerobic exercise, but we already have plenty stored in our bodies, so we don’t need to add massively to them to fuel our workouts. However, if you feel like you need something to keep you going, try eating foods such as nuts, and seeds and avocados, which provide healthy unsaturated fats and are a great source of calories. Just avoid foods which contain large amounts of saturated fats such as butter, cheese, and ice-cream. 

Here to help you get your nutrition right

Getting your nutrition right can be tricky especially if you aren’t 100% sure what you should be doing or how to adjust your current eating habits. But I’m here to help! Part of being an experienced personal trainer is also about providing you with nutritional advice so that you can get the most out of your workouts.