Fuelling for Exercise

June 6 / 2018

Fitness and healthy eating concept, pink sneakers and pink dumbbells with apple, grapes and almond nuts on notepad, wooden background, top view with copy space

Our guest blogger today is Nasser Yassine, one of my amazing co-workers and a fellow Registered Dietitian and Certified Exercise Physiologist. Nasser enjoys spending time outdoors and eating different types of ethnic cuisines.


With warmer days on the horizon, Canadians are spending more time outside and moving more. If you are a weekend warrior, an avid gardener or an aspiring athlete, proper nutrition can help with performance, recovery and it can even be fun in the process! Today I will list some general strategies when it comes to pairing nutrition with exercise and physical activity.



Goal: carbohydrate for energy, protein for satiety and fluids for hydration

The ideal timing for the last pre-exercise meal can vary from person to person depending on their personal preference and comfort. Some individuals can eat a meal an hour or two before while others may need over 3-4 hours before feeling comfortable to exercise. Typically, this meal will mostly contain carbohydrates (quinoa, rice, potatoes, fruit, pasta, etc.) with a smaller amount of protein (animal protein, legumes, dairy products, etc.). If you’re looking to have a snack an hour before exercising, focusing on carbohydrate is key. Note that meals that are too high in fat, fibre or protein right before exercise may cause some digestive discomfort because of the longer time needed for moving the food through the digestive system. Drinking water throughout the day will also help to ensure that you’re starting the exercise session well hydrated.



Goal: hydration is key and if activity is long enough, focus on carbohydrate

Nutrition strategies at this stage will depend on the type, intensity and duration of your exercise session. One thing is certain and that is the importance of staying hydrated. Usually water is enough for workouts under an hour long with mild to moderate heat and humidity conditions. On the other hand, longer sessions in intense heat where sweat rate is increased may warrant a sports drink or another food item that can help replenish electrolytes and provide some carbohydrate as fuel. For example if you’re going to play a round of golf on a hot day and walk the entire course, you may benefit from packing a sports drink or a snack (i.e. granola bar or trail mix), whereas if you’re going for a short jog outside you can probably just get by with water.



Goal: protein to rebuild muscle and carbohydrate to replenish energy stores

At this point, you want to focus on recovery. This is especially important if the next workout or exercise session is the same day or the following one. A combination of both protein (at least 8 grams) with some carbohydrate (quantity will vary) within 30-45 minutes following the end of the workout is key. For example, a peanut butter sandwich or a smoothie made with cow’s milk or soymilk and fruit would meet these criteria.

Remember that these are only simple guidelines and if you are looking for more tailored advice with specific quantities for individual foods and nutrients, I recommend that you meet with Emily, our Nutrition Coach, to help you create a plan that fits your personal needs and goals.


Stay grounded,