Fuel your body to get the most out of your BURN

This month, registered Dietitian, Ana-Kristina Scrapac, shares with us her advice on fuelling your body to ensure you are getting the most out of your BURN

It may be cliché to say that nutrition is important for exercise and training, and it’s not something we need to convince our Rider’s about. But you may be interested to know how to optimise what you consume before and after your workout to get the most out of your exercise goals.


Fuelling up: pre-workout

Why is fuelling up important? Having the essential substrates for energy during exercise will improve your performance, endurance and recovery. The key here is to think about eating the right balance of foods at the right timing before your training so the fuel is usable during your session. What you eat and how much you eat will affect the time needed for digestion and absorption of nutrients and how available the nutrients are during exercise. Getting this balance right is also important for preventing any indigestion before exercise.

A general guide to timing: eat a small balanced meal 3 – 4 hours before or a lighter snack 1 – 2 hours before training.

A carbohydrate based meal or snack is the universally agreed ideal pre-workout fuel food. Carbohydrate based foods provide us with ready-to-use energy to ensure we prevent muscle fatigue during high intensity and endurance based exercise. Our metabolism switches during high intensity exercise to utilise glucose more quickly; glucose is the preferred energy source of our bodies. Choosing a slow-release carbohydrate (low glycaemic index) as part of a small meal (3-4 hours before) will ensure a slow release of glucose is maintained during exercise, maintaining blood glucose levels for longer. A fast-release carbohydrate (high glycaemic index) snack eaten 1-2 hours before exercise will ensure that glucose is digested and absorbed more quickly and ready for use during exercise.

It is important to think about your exercise goals here too. If your goal is around performance, or to build and maintain muscle mass, your pre-exercise meal or snack should ideally include some protein. If your goal is for weight control, it is best to ensure you are eating balanced meals throughout the day and focus on refuelling after exercise. If you train early in the morning, opt for a lighter snack pre-workout and focus on refuelling straight after your session. RIDE REPUBLIC sessions are high intensity workouts therefore:

Ideas for foods suitable 3-4hrs pre RIDE:

  • Cereal or porridge
  • Cheese/meat sandwich
  • Fruit with greek yogurt
  • Portion of pasta, rice or quinoa with vegetables, lean meat or legumes

Ideas for foods suitable 1-2hrs pre RIDE:

  • Protein shake or fruit smoothie
  • Cereal bar or sports bar
  • Yogurt pot
  • Portion of fruit (banana)

Re-fuelling: post-workout

No doubt after your session at RIDE, you will be feeling energised (with some level of fatigue!) and sweaty. Your body will continue in this raised metabolic state for some hours after exercise and it is now important to think about optimally refuelling and rehydrating to ensure the best recovery. Post-exercise recovery is as important if not more important, particularly if you train three or more sessions per week.

The recovery process after exercise will depend on the intensity and frequency of training, whether you are training hard for an event or whether you are exercising moderately to improve your general fitness.

What happens during recovery?

ENERGY RESERVES: The most important process in the body during recovery is rebuilding glycogen stores. Glycogen is the term used for stored glucose (energy reserves) of which we have reserves in our muscles and in our liver. Optimal glycogen reserves are essential for maintaining blood glucose levels throughout the day, during exercise and during sleep. If we are not replacing the glycogen used, we will be compromising our performance in subsequent training sessions – this is particularly relevant in moderate-high intensity exercisers (more than three sessions per week) and athletes who train every day. Glycogen synthesis (the rate at which we convert glucose from carbohydrate foods consumed to glycogen) is greatest in the first hour after exercise, and it is best to refuel within this period with a carbohydrate-rich food. For those that are training regularly and where the emphasis is on performance, it is recommended to refuel with a snack or meal giving approx. 1g carbohydrate per Kg body weight. For those that are exercising for general fitness or weight control, it is recommended to refuel with a balanced meal following exercise including a normal portion of carbohydrate as part of the meal.

HYDRATION: Rehydration is just as important. Everyone will have a level of dehydration following exercise, those that are heavy perspirers will need to rehydrate more. Dehydration during exercise is one of the more common factors for exercise fatigue and under-performance. So, ensuring you correct the deficit after each session is crucial not only to your performance but to your wellbeing and speed of recovery.

Being under-hydrated during exercise impairs our body’s ability to regulate heat, leading to increased body temperature and heart rate. It is a complete myth that this in turn leads to an increase rate of weight loss. In fact, being in this state increases fatigue, reduces motor control and concentration and increases the risk of injury, whilst having zero effect on metabolism for weight loss.

If you are prone to sweating more intensely or are training heavily, then you can calculate your estimated fluid loss by weighing yourself pre and post exercise. If you have lost 0.5kg during exercise and have consumed 500ml during your workout, then you have lost approx. 1L of fluid. It is recommended that we replace 120 – 150% of our estimated fluid losses in the 4 – 6 hours after exercise.

If your workout is geared more towards general fitness of a more moderate intensity, then try to rehydrate following exercise by drinking water regularly. You can monitor your level of hydration by your urine output, the more dehydrated you are, the less output you have.

MUSCLE REPAIR: the greater the intensity of exercise the more likely we will experience breakdown of muscle protein. This is a natural phenomenon of our metabolism during exercise – as we exercise we are in a catabolic state (we use energy and breakdown our reserves). So, post exercise, we need to think about refuelling to rebuild (anabolic) any losses. This is particularly essential for those with goals geared towards improving performance or training for an event. The hour immediately after exercise is the optimal window in which to consume a snack or meal containing protein along with a carbohydrate source. By choosing a refuel food that has both protein and carbohydrate further ensures muscle protein is spared and rebuilding is optimised. If we eat more protein than we need, we simply excrete the excess in our urine, so don’t get tempted by high protein replacement supplements if you are not needing them.

Regular exercise helps to improve all aspects of health – but this is only true if we pay attention to fuelling our bodies in the right way. Sports drinks and supplements are generally only advised for athletes or those that do intense training for endurance events. For the majority of us, it is best to plan ahead and be prepared with nutritious meals and snacks.

Ideas for foods providing 50g carbohydrate suitable post RIDE:

  • 2 slices of toast with banana
  • Porridge/cereal
  • 1 cup vegetable soup and bread roll
  • 5o0ml fruit juice

Ideas for foods providing 50g carbohydrate/10g protein suitable post RIDE:

  • Protein shake or fruit smoothie
  • 1-2 sports bars
  • Porridge/cereal with milk
  • 2 crumpets with nut butter and 250ml glass of milk
  • 2 slices of toast with 2 eggs and tomato
  • 2 slices of toast with 1 egg and 1/2 avocado

Ideas foods providing 10g protein suitable post RIDE:

  • 40g of cooked lean meat or chicken
  • 50g of canned tuna/salmon or cooked fish
  • 300 ml of milk
  • 200g tub of greek yoghurt
  • 1.5 slices (30g) of cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g of tofu
  • 200g of baked beans
  • 60g of nuts
  • 3/4 cup cooked lentils/kidney beans


For more information read:



Each month we will look at a different way to optimise your eating in a healthy way. In the meantime, if you have specific interests contact me with your queries or comments on Twitter @AnaKristinaLNC

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