Importance of Food Selection

- Coach Tom (Head of S&C)

Food is a hotly debated subject with varying perspectives on what should and shouldn’t be consumed. When it comes to nourishment to compliment a training regime and what the best source of fuel is, as it goes in the exercise world…it depends. For the average person trying to navigate the vast ocean of information, it can be challenging to determine what the correct prescription is to follow. The best advice I have would be to seek professional advice from a Dietician or Nutritionist that will work with your lifestyle. In the meantime here is a list of considerations to think about when choosing the right food/fuel for you and your training. 

First of all you need to determine the details that are specific to your training:

  • What time do you train? Morning, Midday or Evening?
  • What type of training do you perform? Conditioning, strength or both?
  • How long do you train for? 

Your meal before a morning session might look vastly different to the meal you would consume before training in the evening. The type and duration of training also greatly affects what you consume. If you are in the gym for a 1 hour session performing a strength or bodybuilding routine, you can get away with eating 30-60mins before starting. If your session involves some long intervals or aerobic/anaerobic conditioning, then you may need to eat 90-120mins prior to starting. The breakdown of macronutrients in your pre training meal also needs to be addressed. 

For a strength session lasting 1 hour, your meal might consist of a greater percentage of protein, moderate amount of carbohydrates and the rest fats e.g. 20% Pro, 50% CHO & 30% Fats. A session lasting 2 hours that involves both strength and high intensity conditioning might require a higher percentage or carbs, less protein and a similar amount of fats e.g 10% Pro, 70% CHO & 20% Fats. 

With all that in mind you then have to ask what foods do you enjoy and also what foods interact well with your digestive system? If you’re training in the morning it might be as simple as a banana and a coffee, a protein shake or smoothie or nothing at all if you prefer to train on an empty stomach. If you are training in the middle of the day or evening then you would have consumed a meal or two beforehand. There are no particular foods you should avoid before training as it all depends if you normally eat it and can digest it appropriately before commencing training. You would, however, want to avoid anything that is too calorie dense or eating too close to starting your training.