Fit foodie - Derval O'Rourke: Pre and post workout nutrition

This week I’m chatting about pre and post workout nutrition. It’s a question I get asked a lot! For my recipes, it’s my blueberry protein pancakes and red lentil dahl, both perfect for fuelling your busy life.

When it comes to training and nutrition there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We are all different, as are our bodies. And while specific groups of endurance athletes, bodybuilders and professional sports people may benefit from detailed sports nutrition strategies, the vast majority of us just need to nail the basics. Here are four areas to consider.

1. Before you train:

Fuelling up beforehand can help to sustain energy, boost performance, hydrate, preserve muscle mass and speed up recovery. Ideally, aim to consume food one to two hours beforehand to give your stomach time to settle. Try to include a source of carbohydrate, ideally one that releases its energy slowly, like oats or sweet potato, plus a source of protein like nut butter or egg. The body stores carbohydrates as glycogen in the liver and muscles. During exercise, this glycogen is broken down into glucose to supply the working muscles with energy. If this supply is inadequate it can cause early fatigue and negatively affect your training and performance.

We all lead busy lives and may not always be able to make a pre-workout meal. So if you are short on time or are training early and don’t want to leave time for your food to settle, try a light carb-based snack such as rice cakes or a banana about 30-60 minutes before the workout. Bananas are great as they have a low glycemic index and are packed with potassium, an electrolyte which you lose when you sweat.

My favourite pre-training option: wholemeal toast with eggs and coffee.

My favourite pre-training option on the go: A banana, a small handful of nuts and a coffee.

2. Coffee

I love a cup of coffee. Caffeine has been shown to improve endurance and strength in a workout. Aim to have your coffee 30-60 minutes before you exercise to allow time for the caffeine to be absorbed and take effect. When I was a professional athlete coffee was always a really big thing on the racing circuit, athletes love their coffee!

3. Hydration

Hydration is super important pre- and post-workout too. Our bodies are roughly 50% to 60% water and even mild dehydration can
affect mental and physical performance. Try to be conscious of sipping on water all day as you go about your normal routine. The Irish Nutrition and Dietetics Institute website has a good recipe for a homemade isotonic sports drink. The recipe is 500ml of fruit juice plus 500ml of water plus a pinch of salt. This is a great option to keep you hydrated.

4. Post-workout food

Don’t forget to refuel post workout with a meal containing both protein and carbohydrates to help support muscle repair and recovery. For optimal recovery, I would aim to get at least a post-workout snack into your body within 30 minutes of finishing as this will help tide you over until you can make your post-training meal. However, don’t panic if you are caught out, you won’t lose all your gains because ultimately the most important thing when it comes to lean muscle gain, fat loss and performance improvements is to ensure you are consuming enough of these two macronutrients over the entire day. And to ensure that you’re eating enough to support your goals. However, I would recommend that you don’t wait all
day before eating your post-workout meal.

My favourite post workout snack: rice cake with peanut butter and chopped banana.

Fitspiration

www.ausport.gov.au

The Australian Institute of Sports website has lots of up-to-date research on sports nutrition plus lots of fact sheets and recipes. It’s all evidence-based advice and really practical which
I love. One of my first performance cookbooks came from it and I bought it 10 years ago.

Blueberry protein pancakes 

These pancakes make the most delicious weekend breakfast or post-workout snack. The best bit is that they can be made in a big batch and stored in the freezer. I love mine served with Greek yoghurt and fruit.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10minute

Serves: 10-12 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 200g porridge oats
  • 4 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 100g blueberries
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Method:

Blitz the oats in a foodprocessor until theyresemble a course flour, then place them in a mixing bowl together with theprotein powder.

In a separate bowl combine the eggs and banana and mix until smooth.

Combine the wet anddry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add in the whole blueberries.

In a small non-stick frying pan heat a little coconut oil and ladle in the mixture.

Repeat until your mixture is gone. The number of pancakes you get from the mixture will depend on their size.

I like to use a small pan and keep them about the size of a saucer, this is partly because I just love to stack them up.

These pancakes make the most delicious weekend breakfast or post-workout snack. The best bit is that they can be made in a big batch and stored in the freezer. I love mine served with Greek yoghurt and fruit.

Red lentil dahl 

Everyone can make a super easy and tasty lentil dal dinner. It’s a really healthy supper and a great way to have a lovely vegetarian dinner in your cooking repertoire.

This recipe will be beautiful the following day as the flavours come out even more so try to make enough for a few meals!

It will freeze well, it’s worth cooking enough to stock this in your freezer. This dinner will be done in simply one big pot, always good news when it comes to tidy up.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25-30 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 medium red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbs medium curry powder
  • 200g red lentils washed and drained
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml boiling water
  • Bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Method:

In a large pot melt the coconut oil. Add the vegetables and sweat off gently on a low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the dried spices and cook for roughly another 2 minutes.

Stir in your lentils, lime juice and chopped tomatoes. Add the water and bring to a gentle simmer. Continue to simmer for another 15- 20 minutes, adding more water if necessary.

Serve topped with heaps of fresh coriander and a good dollop of natural yoghurt!

Everyone can make a super easy and tasty lentil dal dinner. It’s a really healthy supper and a great way to have a lovely vegetarian dinner in your cooking repertoire.


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