Healthy eating in conjunction with regular physical activity is important for good health and prevention of chronic disease.
This week the Longevity team took some time to look at some of our most commonly asked nutrition questions. We have asked our friend, Anthony Hartcher from Me and My Wellness to give us some insight and answer some nutrition FAQ’s.
Anthony is a passionate, caring, client focused, clinical nutritionist who specialises in mental health, children’s health and body transformation. He is a firm believer in treating the whole person, ensuring all aspects of wellbeing are addressed and supported.
1. What is a good daily food source of micronutrients?
Firstly let’s define micronutrients. ‘Micro’ means a very small quality. As opposed to ‘macro’ which means large. Micronutrients consists of vitamins and minerals. They are required by the body to help manufacture energy, enzymes, proteins, hormones, blood cells, and assist with many other physiological functions and processes.
Some good sources of micronutrients tend to be the superfoods!
Nuts, Seeds, or pseudo grains:
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale
- Sweet potatoes
2. What should I eat before I exercise?
Carbohydrates are your best friend when it comes to sports performance! Although they are out of flavour with social media and fad diets, carbs are the backbone to a successful workout or sporting performance. So you are probably wondering what are the best carbs pre-workout! They are your high glycemic (high GI) forms of carbohydrates with low fibre and protein:
- White bread with jam or honey
- Pasta with a tomato sauce
- Dates and other dried fruits
You are now thinking these foods are rubbish! It all comes back to your health goal. If your preparing to achieve a PB in a training session or an event, then these are your best pre-exercise foods. If you are wanting to improve your body composition, then you are best to avoid these foods and use your fat stores ie. eat nothing pre-workout.
Always allow enough time to digest the food pre-workout or event! In terms of how much this will depend upon the duration of exercise and the exercise intensity. Best to consult a clinical nutritionist or sports dietitian if you would like further specific and personalised support in regards to this.
- what about coffee pre-workout? Yes! And ideally 45min before for optimal benefit. However, if you exercise in the evening … best not to consume caffeine in the evening as it may compromise your sleep.
3. What should I eat after I exercise?
This question is best answered using two common scenarios as it is too difficult to give a generic response.
Scenario 1: improve body composition ie. you want to gain muscle mass or do not want to lose muscle mass!
Protein is essential post workout as the muscles and tissues need to be repaired. Remember your muscles grow in the recovery phase! Therefore it is essential that we provide them with what they need for optimal recovery. Ideally this protein needs to be consumed within an hour of exercise. In terms of quantity aim for 20-25g of pure protein. Easiest to consume form is a protein powder. Best protein source is whey isolate. For those vegan or dairy intolerant go for a rice / pea protein. In terms of ‘food is medicine’ approach 20-25g of pure protein is: 3 medium eggs; 100-120g of meat or fish; 600ml skim milk; 200g tofu; 350g yoghurt (natural, skim); 120g almonds.
Having some carbohydrates will avoid an energy slump during the day. However if you want to consume fat stores and can live with an energy slump don’t consume carbs post workout!
Scenario 2: optimise recovery before next exercise session or maintain peak energy throughout the day
Have protein as suggested in scenario 1 and carbohydrates. In terms of how much again this depends on your goal, workout duration and intensity. Generally speaking having a banana, berries, dates in your post workout protein shake is sufficient. Alternatively a couple of pieces of bread with jam or honey.
Always remember to rehydrate post workout!!!
4. When should I eat after exercise? Straight away or wait?
Ideally for optimal recovery as soon as you can. However for optimal digestion then waiting until your relaxed (heart rate has normalised) is best. A post workout protein smoothie is the best option for most people. Best to avoid foods high in fibre and fats post workout (hard to digest). In saying this, a study on the All Black Rugby Union Team demonstrated 1500mg of omega 3 fish oil with 25g protein powder compared to straight protein powder is more optimal for post workout recovery.
5. How much protein should I eat per day? Does this change if I’m exercising regularly?
Protein requirements depend upon your age, gender and type of exercise. As we age our protein requirements increase. Men have a 20% higher protein requirement to women. The more weight bearing exercise and higher intensity also increase our protein requirements. Here are some rules of thumb to help guide your protein intake:
- Active male adult exercising 150 minutes per week which includes weight bearing activities: 1-1.2g/kg of body weight. So for a 70 kg male he should consume 70-84g of pure protein per day. For maximum utilisation he should divide this into 20-25g protein per serve.
- Active female adult (not pregnant) exercising 150 minutes per week which includes weight bearing activities: 0.8-1.0g/kg of body weight.
- For an adult exercising for 200-300min per week your requirement is 1.2-1.5g/kg of body weight. Ladies your 20% less: 1-1.2g/kg of body weight.
6. Which meal should be the biggest in my day?
This really depends upon your goal and lifestyle. Generally speaking breakfast should be as most of our calories are consumed throughout the day. However, a large breakfast does not work for everyone. More importantly our focus should be on protein and vegetable intake. Having an adequate amount of protein (refer to ‘how much protein’ answer) throughout the day is essential for maintaining blood sugar regulation, focus and satiety. Too often I see clients who binge eat in the evening because they have not eaten enough protein throughout the day. Eating a big meal in the evening ends up in our fat stores! When choosing your meal focus on does it have an adequate amount of protein (25% of plate or bowl) and secondly does it contain 50% vegetables. With vegetables focus on the wide variety of colours e.g. rainbow looking salad!
7. What are good food sources of essential vitamins e.g A B D
Vitamins A & D are fat soluble vitamins and are found mainly in fats. Some good sources include milk, yoghurt, eggs, meat (liver), oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel). For vegans and vegetarians eat lots of red/ orange/yellow fruit and vegetables for beta carotene. Beta carotene is a precursor to vitamin A. For vitamin D eat a variety of mushrooms, ensure you spend time in sunshine (10min per day) and eat good fats from olive oil, avocado and coconut oil. Our body stores excess vitamin A & D in our fat cells and liver.
Vitamin B is a water soluble vitamin and only vitamin B12 is stored in the liver. Therefore it is essential we consume vitamin B containing foods on a daily basis for our energy, hormonal, neurotransmitter needs. Foods rich in vitamin B are wholegrains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption will increase your vitamin B requirements.
8. What are the recommendations for hydration pre/post exercise?
Electrolyte drinks are best for optimal rehydration. Ideally ones with low sugar content for weight loss. For those who are pursuing PB’s or peak performance then sugar content is fine. High sugar content are Gatorade, Powerade. Low sugar content is Hydrolyte.
Water is fine for the weekend warrior type people! Or make your own – essentially electrolyte drink is mineralised water. So alkaline water with a dash of salt and a squeeze of lemon. Bone broths also contain great electrolytes.
A rule of thumb for hydration is 30-35ml per kg of body weight. However requirement is very dependant upon temperature, humidity, and exercise intensity. Best to go by your urine colour – a pale yellow to clear throughout the day.
9. I’m feeling run down/ I’ve got a cold, what should I eat to get me back on track?
Number one thing to do is rest, sleep well and some light, gentle exercise e.g. a stroll in the sun or stretching. In terms of food – eat less, not big meals, bone broths and vegetable soups are great. Vitamin C rich foods are helpful such as capsicum, kiwi fruit, oranges. A great supplement you can buy from the chemist is Bioceuticals ArmaForce – take as recommended.
Don’t forget your protein to minimise muscle loss. Fat loss ok!
10. I am competing in a sporting event tomorrow, what is a good meal to eat the night before/on the day/afterwards?
Really depends upon the sporting event, the duration and your intensity. Generally speaking a carbohydrate rich meal is best. For a morning event have a bowl of pasta or your favourite carb meal the night before. A bowl of porridge with honey or toast with honey/jam (minimal fat and protein) is an ideal pre-event morning food. Just allow enough time to digest it pre-race. Best post event fuel is again carbohydrate rich meal with some protein.
More about Anthony and Me and My Wellness
Anthony’s passion for health and wellness started as a kid reading health magazines, books and fulfilling a sporting obsession. He is constantly striving to grow through continued learning having successfully completed three bachelor degrees in Nutrition (with distinction), Complementary Medicine (with distinction) and Chemical Engineering (honours). Whilst studying Anthony was awarded the University Medal for academic excellence by Endeavour College of Natural Health. Received two bursary scholar awards from Australian Natural Therapies Association and was recognised by Australian Traditional Medicine Society as the most highly commended student of the year.
Although Anthony has achieved academic excellence he states his greatest achievement is his family. He loves spending his spare time with his wife Adriana, and their two children Sofia and Ollie. On weekends, Anthony enjoys coaching Ollie’s soccer team and going on family adventures, whether it be to the local beach or camping in a national park.
As Health Professionals, we understand there is not a one method fits all approach. For more information about healthy choices and making a lifestyle change call Longevity on 1300 964 002.
Written by Ashleigh Mead