Fuelling Performance with Nutrition

True Protein Blog Avatar Fallback reviewed by our Nutrition Team 08 November 2023

Whether you're an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or simply looking to maximize your potential, we've got you covered. Discover nutrition tips, and smart strategies to optimize your fueling strategy, unlock your full potential and achieve your performance goals.

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Fuelling Performance with Nutrition

Fuelling your body for performance is essential in providing the energy, strength, endurance, and mental clarity needed to excel in physical activities. The food and nutrients you consume directly impact your mental and physical capabilities, particularly during activities that require energy and endurance. Your fuelling strategy will depend on the duration and intensity of the activity you are undertaking, as well as other factors like gender, age, and body composition goals. For example, a marathon runner will need to fuel their body differently from a powerlifter, but the principles of maintaining a balanced, whole-food diet remain unchanged. 

When it comes to fuelling our bodies for performance, much of the attention is on what we consume just prior to the activity. However, it is important to remember that day-to-day nutrition habits play a significant role in our overall performance. 

Energy intake is generally divided into: 

  • 45% to 65% carbohydrates 

  • 20% to 35% fat 

  • 15% to 25% protein 

 

Carbohydrates 

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for fuelling our fitness performance. They are broken down into glucose, which serves as the immediate and preferred energy source for our entire body. Carbohydrates are stored in the form of glycogen in our muscles and liver, and it is crucial to have adequate glycogen stores to maintain energy levels for an extended period and prevent fatigue. If you are engaging in high-intensity activity for longer than 90 minutes, you may want to consider carbohydrate loading. This involves increasing your carbohydrate intake in the days leading up to the event. 
 

Fats 

While carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for fuelling our performance, fats also play a crucial role, especially in longer and lower-intensity exercises. Athletes should prioritize sources of healthy fats rich in unsaturated fats and essential fatty acids while avoiding trans fats and monitoring saturated fats. For high-intensity exercises, our bodies cannot extract energy from fats quickly enough, but fats can be metabolised at an adequate rate to sustain endurance exercise when glycogen stores become depleted. 

 

Protein 

Protein can serve as a source of energy during exercise; however, it is not the primary or preferred source. Nevertheless, protein plays a vital role in supporting athletic performance and facilitating recovery. It is essential for repairing and building muscle tissue, particularly during exercises like resistance training, where muscle fibres often sustain damage. Therefore, protein plays a crucial role in muscle repair and growth, enabling you to perform at your best. 

 

Pre-workout 

Sports Dietitians Australia recommend eating your last main meal 2-4 hours before your session, so your body has time to properly absorb and process it, with a pre-workout snack on hand for about an hour before. SDA suggest your pre-workout meal or snack be: 
  • Rich in carbohydrate to prime your fuel stores

  • Low in fibre, especially if you have issues with your gut or feel very nervous

  • Easy to digest – avoid foods overly high in fat or protein as these are slower to digest

  • Familiar – practise your options in training and do not try anything new on event day!

 

Proper hydration is also a key component of fuelling your body for peak performance, and it's an integral part of your overall health. Staying adequately hydrated is essential for temperature regulation, cognitive function, muscle function, endurance and recovery.  
Example of some pre-workout snacks: 
  • Banana  

  • Greek yoghurt with fruit and granola 

  • Bagel with jam or peanut butter  

 

You may also choose to fuel your performance using a supplement like pre-workout. True Pre is a formulated sports supplement designed to be taken shortly before exercise to improve your athletic performance. It can give you more energy, improve your endurance and extend the time to fatigue. Many people enjoy taking pre-workout to get them motivated for a big session in the gym. 

 

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During exercise 

In general, there's usually no need to replenish your fuel stores for training sessions or events lasting under 60 minutes, and in some cases, up to 90 minutes. However, for sessions longer than this, you might consider consuming additional carbohydrates during your workout. This helps maintain stable blood glucose levels, providing energy for both your muscles and brain during exercise, allowing you to sustain a high level of intensity throughout an extended training session. 
Example of fuel during exercise: 
  • Carbohydrate gels 

  • Dried fruit 

  • Sports energy bar 

 

True Electrolyte is another option for nutrition during exercise. It restores the balance of electrolytes to your body through its optimal ratio of sodium, magnesium and potassium. This ensures you are well hydrated, and your body can continue to perform at its physical peak, while you’re amid physical activity. 
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Post workout 

Post-workout nutrition is essential if you want to support recovery and prepare to fuel your next workout, especially when training multiple times a day and aiming for peak performance. Opt for high-quality carbohydrates to replenish muscle fuel reserves, include lean protein for muscle recovery, and make sure to incorporate fluids and sources of electrolytes for efficient rehydration. 
Example of post workout nutrition: 
  • Fruit with Greek yoghurt 

  • Small tin of tuna with crackers 

  • Lean chicken and salad wrap 

 

If you are after a quick fix, True Post is an all-encompassing post-workout supplement that is designed to provide your body with everything it needs to recover after a high intensity workout. Ideal for athletes training regularly and intensely, True Post includes 28g of New Zealand grass-fed whey protein isolate to kickstart your muscles recovery process, and 31g of dextrose, a high GI carb used by the body to replenish your glycogen stores. 
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Conclusion 

Fuelling for performance is a fundamental aspect of any athlete or active individual's journey. The choices we make regarding our nutrition have a profound impact on our ability to reach our fitness and performance goals. Whether you're a competitive athlete striving for a personal best or someone who simply enjoys an active lifestyle, the principles of proper fuelling remain the same. 


Remember that nutrition is not one-size-fits-all. What works for one person may not work for another. It's essential to listen to your body, experiment with different fuelling strategies, and seek guidance from nutrition professionals to create a personalised nutrition plan that aligns with your goals and needs. 

 

References

1. Bytomski, J. R. (2017). Fueling for performance. Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 10(1), 47–53. https://doi.org/10.1177/1941738117743913

2. Cermak, N. M., & Van Loon, L. J. C. (2013). The use of carbohydrates during exercise as an ergogenic aid. Sports Medicine, 43(11), 1139–1155. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-013-0079-0

3. Sports Dietitians Australia. (2015, June 5). Eating & Drinking during Exercise - Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA). Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA). https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/factsheets/fuelling-recovery/eating-drinking-exercise/

4. Sports Dietitians Australia. (2021, May 3). Pre- exercise Fuelling - Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA). Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA). https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/factsheets/coaches-toolkit-2/pre-exercise-fuelling/

5. Team, N. N. (2020, February 18). An athlete’s guide to understanding dietary fat. NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS). https://www.nswis.com.au/nutrition/an-athletes-guide-to-understanding-dietary-fat/

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: all content provided here is of a general nature only and is not a substitute for individualised professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and reliance should not be placed on it. For personalised medical or nutrition advice, please make an appointment with your doctor, dietitian or qualified health careprofessional.