Often I have the pleasure of discussing nutrition with school kids of various ages. We decide that in order to keep energised throughout our long day – so that we can learn, play, rest, and of course do exercise – then, we need to effectively ‘fuel our body’.

For vitality, we need clean air, clean water, quality rest, and ‘clean food’. By ‘clean’, we mean wholesome, natural, ‘real, food – powered with nutrients (minerals, vitamins, phyto-chemicals) and with minimum processing.

Assuming we are living and eating ‘clean’ for the most part, fueling for sport activities is still very important. Specifically to:

• prepare for a workout – so we’ve the enthusiasm to start
• maintain energy throughout – so we perform at our best
• refuel afterwards – so our body can effectively recover

Running on empty, or grabbing a chocolate bar on the go, does not provide the energy required to get the most from our workout. ‘Rewarding’ with a Starbucks muffin and skinny mocha Frappuccino afterwards, does not help us recover and re-energise.

So what should we eat to get the most from our exercise routine?

Keeping it simple, foods are made up of:
1. Carbohydrate – our preferred and primary source of energy – in the form of glucose, or stored as glycogen in our muscles and liver for future use
2. Fats – our second source of energy (stored), provide protection and keep us healthy
3. Protein – breaks down into amino acids, which repair our cells, encourage growth and provide strength. This particularly applies to muscle tissue, which we tear down during strenuous or weight bearing exercise.

Assuming our goal is to exercise to a moderately intense level, the guidelines here will suffice. Participants in Mega events, such as marathons and Ironmans, should consult a Sports Nutritionist in order to evaluate appropriate fueling to meet their specific objectives.

Consume primarily healthy carbohydrates, along with some protein, which ‘sit well’ and won’t cause discomfort or bloating (not the time to try a new food).

Below are some examples.

2-4 hours before workout meal (if working out later in the day)
• oatmeal or healthy cereal with fruits, some nuts/seeds
whole-grain pasta dish with chicken/fish and vegetables
• a healthy soup with whole-grain bread
• whole-grain sandwich with tuna salad

Immediately before, and during exercise, carbs that are easily and more quickly digested, will provide immediate energy.

30 minutes – 1 hour before workout snack
• Fresh fruits or dried fruits (if digested well)
• Greek yogurt
• Small smoothie made with choice of milk, and fruit
• Healthy no/low-sugar cereal with milk of choice
• Healthy crisp bread with honey

Water, water, water – especially in hotter climates, H2O will suffice, unless your workout is intense and lasting more than an hour.

To help with dehydration and sweating, especially in hot, humid climates,  I can recommend my go-to drink which I make up at home:  Pure coconut water (which replaces lost electrolytes – potassium, magnesium, calcium), add some fresh fruit juice for glucose, a little salt to address sodium loss.

Where refueling is necessary, an easily digested carbohydrate should be consumed – a small ripe banana, melon, or light energy bar.

Within 30 minutes or so, consume a protein-based (to repair muscles) with carbohydrate (to restore energy) snack, which can be readily absorbed.

Some suggestions are:
• Smoothie with yogurt, almond milk and flax or chia seeds
• Rice cakes with nut or seed butter, hummus
• Oatmeal with yogurt and seeds/nuts

The next meal should contain a mix of healthy carbohydrates, proteins and some fats.

A few points to note:
• Where the goal is weight loss, pre-, during and post-exercise nutrition should not be compromised. An efficient and effective workout, designed to promote fat-loss, needs to be adequately supported with good nutrition. Watching portion sizes, reducing sugar, fat and alcohol intake at other times, 24/7, will achieve the desired results.
• Unless exercising intensely and for longer periods, commercial sports drinks and gels are not necessary, especially as these can be high in sugars and additives. People involved in intense training, or are challenged in staying hydrated and fueled, should consult a Sports Nutritionist for advice.
• Assuming a ‘clean’ and healthy diet, then protein powders are not necessary for most exercisers. The exception would be endurance athletes and those involved in intense strength training.

Sporting activities and exercise contribute in a very significant way to a healthy life-style – all the more when supported by a sensible and nutritious diet. Whatever our exercise routine and aspirations are, these cannot be effectively met unless we look after our body 24/7.


Delighted to share that I will be supporting the lovely ladies at Momentum Bootcamps with their Body-By-Momentum program, kicking off at my place August 31st. This is truly an amazing way for you to be inspired to get into an energizing fitness routine, while improving your nutrition and eating habits – and of course, we want it to stay that way throughout 2016 and beyond!

Click below for more details(or you may also click the photo), and to sign up to this great motivating and supportive challenge. http://www.momentumbootcamps.com/our-4-week-challenge/


Here’s a taste from Momentum Bootcamps on how you can power up during exercise while busting any feelings of stress. If bootcamps are  not your thing, then simply find what might be – a light jog, competitive sport, a fast swim – whatever rocks your boat so that you exercise to re-energize! 🙂
To our health!

Liza Rowan

Holistic Nutritionist

When not not busy in my favourite role as mother to my two boys,  I dedicate my time to educate, motivate and inspire us all to lead healthier, happier lives. This involves hosting Nutrition courses (in-class and online), corporate wellness talks, workshops and when I have time, private consultations.

 You can follow me on one or more of the following channels:

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Here to help you snack healthier is Liza’s Healthy Snacking Guide! You might have one or two snacks a day so with the 50+ healthy snack ideas in this guide, it’s like you’re set for the whole month!


In this free guide, you will:

– understand what triggers mindless eating

– have positive, realistic action you can take right away

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