Nutrition for everyday activity

The current National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that Australian adults put together at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most or preferably all days of the week.

If you are active to this level or less, then the general healthy eating principles outlined in the Australian Dietary Guidelines and Nutrition Australia’s Healthy Eating Pyramid, are likely to provide you with adequate energy and nutrients to match your exercise requirements.

It is important to drink enough fluid every day (preferably water), to ensure you are well hydrated, and this is especially important when you are engaging in physical activity. Water is usually the best choice for drinking before, during and after a physical activity session.

Sports drinks are generally only needed if you are exercising at a high intensity for greater than 60-90 minutes and in hot and humid conditions, or if you know you sweat heavily.

Should I time my meals and snacks around being active?

Carbohydrate is a key fuel source for the muscles during exercise, especially during prolonged continuous or high-intensity exercise. Our muscles maintain stores of carbohydrate in the form of glycogen. These fuel stores can last for about 90 minutes during exercise.

If you are eating balanced meals and not exercising for this long, then it is unlikely that you will need an additional carbohydrate snack before being physically active. If you do find you need a snack before exercise healthy options include:

  • a piece of fruit
  • a tub of reduced fat yoghurt or
  • wholegrain toast or crackers.
What is carbohydrate loading? Who needs to use this strategy?

Carbohydrate loading is a special strategy used to ‘super load’ muscle glycogen stores before long and intense exercise events (usually greater than 90 minutes duration), with little scope for eating or drinking during the event.

Carbohydrate loading is a strategy largely used by endurance athletes. It is important to note there is no advantage of having higher levels of fuel stored if your activity level does not demand it.

For more information about specific sports nutrition strategies for events such as these, see an Accredited Sports Dietitian.

Contact details for Accredited Sports Dietitians can be found at the Sports Dietitians Australia website. This website also has more information and fact sheets suitable for those undertaking a range of sports and exercise activities.

 

Revised May 2013.

 

Share this page