Nutrition, Nutrition

How to fuel your fitness

Nutrition plays a huge role in weight loss and fat loss, it supports and plays a huge role in gaining muscle

If you’re gonna be burnin’ energy you’ve gotta have something to burn, right? Yep, eating the right grub can definitely help you achieve your goals.

But don’t sweat it, we’re not about to get you eating like you’re in beast mode for every meal. We’ve asked local legend Byron Manning, a personal trainer at Aquanation, to drop some truth bombs about what you need to fuel your fitness.

Are your eyes bigger than your gym sesh stomach?

According to Manning, a lot of us are guilty of overestimating our nutritional requirements pre-workout. “Many people fuelling for a gym session don’t actually realise their carbohydrate requirements are actually a lot lower than they expect for what they’re doing.

He says, “a lot of people will fuel up with a big carb meal before they start working out, but they’re only working out for half an hour to an hour, but their work time is a lot less than that.” The personal trainer adds that when it comes to filling your belly post-workout, the nutritional clock isn’t ticking as quickly as many assume.

“For post workout one of the biggest misconceptions would be protein intake and the window about having protein intake within that first 15 minutes to half an hour after the workout. It’s been shown that it’s important and most optimal, but not necessarily required or vital.”

Manning recommends spreading the protein love in your meals throughout the day is ideal.

Love to pump iron?

H20’s where it’s at when it comes to strength training. Manning says making sure you’re staying hydrated is his top nutritional tip for a functional workout.

He stresses this is extra important in the summer months because you’re already turning up to your workout a little dehydrated anyway.

“In summer, you have to be ahead of the game because by the time your thirsty chances are you can’t really catch up, so make sure you drink pre, during and post workout.”

If your post workout meal is usually something like a banana, Manning advises opting for something that has a bit of water content to it as well such as watermelon.

For filling up, Manning suggests making sure you’ve had a meal around two to four hours out. And if supplements are your jam consider their caffeine content as it can “decrease effort, fatigue and can enhance shape in general.”

If you’re a little hangry after your workout, Manning says “you’re looking to replenish what you’ve lost and with resistance training you wouldn’t have lost too much so just be sure to have a meal with a sufficient amount of good quality protein within two hours.”

What portion sizes are we talking about here?

It’s kind of a whatever floats your boat.Well, sort of. “People who are bigger and taller prior to a strength or cardio session would need more than what smaller, shorter people would require,” explains Manning.

He adds your mood and personal preferences play a factor too.

“Some people like to feel fuller during the workout, others don’t like to have any food in their stomach because it makes them feel uncomfortable and some people prefer to eat two to four hours ahead of their workout, it’s all dependent on what works for you.”

Still, it’s important to cool your jets and not get all Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson with your portion sizes pre-workout.

“Avoid having too big a meal in general before any sort of workout because it diverts to your stomach and away from the working muscles, that’s not desirable for any workout,” Manning recommends.


box diet fitness meal lunch grilled chicken steak fitness girl preparing healthy smoothie

Can food help you get your head in the game?

Manning says for focus, nutrition is more important for the percenters among us.

Still, Manning admits “nutrition can definitely hinder your workout if you don’t get it right and a lot of people might not be as educated as they could be about things to have beforehand, which means they might be hurting their performance.”

What’s the deal with protein shakes?

Maybe you’re someone who loves to swig a shake, or perhaps you’re wondering what the heck they’re all about.

For Manning, protein shakes is that they are supplementary, but not required.

“The positive with shakes is it’s a lot easier to slam with high quality protein, rather than chew down a steak after a gym session because most of us don’t have the time.”

Manning adds that although it’s optimal to get that protein source quickly, the benefits don’t really outweigh having some food when you get home.

“Some people drink shakes during their workout, which can help ensure you’ve got amino acids in the blood,” says Manning. He points out that a pre-workout shake might be more beneficial because “as you’re doing damage, you’re blood amino acids are rising at the same time.”

Can food help my gains?

Simple answer, yes. For Manning, nutrition is the main component for achieving body composition goals. “Nutrition plays a huge role in weight loss and fat loss, it supports and plays a huge role in gaining muscle,” states Manning.

If you don’t get your nutrition game on point, Manning reckons you’re kinda shooting yourself in the foot.  “You’re basically just spinning wheels if you’re coming into the gym and you’re doing weights and your nutrition is not quite right - you’re just going in circles.”


Byron Manning is a personal trainer at Aquanation with a Bachelor of Food and Nutrition Science at Deakin University and is currently undertaking a Masters of Dietetics at Deakin University. Learn more.