No Wellness Wankery

105: Featuring Sports Dietitian Chloe McLeod: What's the best way to eat to support my workouts?

March 11, 2024 Lyndi Cohen
No Wellness Wankery
105: Featuring Sports Dietitian Chloe McLeod: What's the best way to eat to support my workouts?
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever wondered what's the key to a turbo-charged workout that leaves you feeling energised? Well listen up!

In this episode  we'll uncover the truth with advanced sports Dietitian Chloe McLeod, who shares why fuelling your body with the right balance of carbs and protein can set your fitness up for success. And who doesn't want that! 

Here's the thing. Forget about hitting the gym on an empty stomach—Chloe debunks the myths of low-carb diets and fasting exercises, and teaches us how to unlock the power of nutrition in your workout routine.  From Running, to Yoga, to HIIT, to Pilates  what to eat right before a workout can help you fly through it (not literally though)! 
 
Learn the "uh-ohs" of underfuelling, and how a well-prepared body can lead to more effective workouts, consistent habits, and better weight management. It really can be that simple!

Skip the energy crashes (and triple-shot coffees to compensate) and enjoy the journey to a fitter and healthier you. 

As a special thank you to our listeners - I'm giving away 20 of my most popular budget-friendly recipes for FREE.

Want to work on incorporating all the nutritious, health-promoting foods you’ve learned to avoid or fear? Try my Back to Basics App today - it’s packed with hundreds of easy and nutritious recipes, as well as workouts, mindfulness exercises and MORE - all to help you find peace with food, and enjoy satisfying, delicious meals at home. Try it free for 7 days here!

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy

If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

Speaker 1:

How much more fun is exercising when you're well-fuelled. It feels so much better and it is so much more fun. Try going for a run not having it in the mouth, but then try going for a run Having it, and it's absolutely true. I cannot emphasise that more.

Speaker 2:

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's episode of the no Well in the Spain Creek podcast. Today I'm very excited because we have a guest. Chloe McLeod is an advanced sports dietitian and over the past 14 years Chloe has specialised in gut health, in food intolerance and sports nutrition. She is also the founder of Verde Nutrition Co where she and her team of nutrition experts provide consults via telehealth, which I think is awfully convenient. So if you're someone who's looking for a little bit of support with your gut health or you're really into your sports and you need to know are you feeling right, then Chloe is the dietitian for you. Now. I hope you really enjoy today's conversation. Let's get into it. Welcome, chloe. I'm so happy to have you on the podcast.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much, Lindy. I'm so excited to be here.

Speaker 2:

I'm excited because you're an expert on many topics and I want to talk to you about some of them, because I think there's so much misinformation, particularly around things like exercise. Often we get told all is conflicting information that we should try and exercise when we haven't eaten yet and that there are certain foods we absolutely need and some we absolutely need to avoid. So, having you here, I just want to ask you some of those really kind of key questions, and a good way to start is by talking about what are the key foods or food groups that we need to prioritise if you're going to be exercising, and exercising regularly.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I love this question and thank you so much as well for your kind words. There is so much misinformation around this area, so I'm stoked to be here and be able to cut through some of that with you. Here's a starting point when we're looking at exercise. So it's two key nutrients that we really need to be mindful of when it comes to fueling for performance and making sure that we're fueling our body adequately. So the first one is carbohydrates. The second is protein, and they're quite important at different times.

Speaker 1:

Carbohydrates are particularly important when it comes to fueling for physical activity and making sure that you have enough energy to do your training session or to complete the exercise that you're doing. And there's this really big trend recently which, to be honest, it really drove me nuts Around going on low carb diets and all around like using fat for fuel in your physical activity. And I mean, yeah, sure, like you are going to a little bit, but if you're looking to perform, if you're looking to do your absolute best, having enough carbohydrates available for your body to use during exercise is going to mean that you can push harder, you'll be able to lift heavier weights, you'll be able to run faster, you'll be able to, you know, hold that lose for that little bit longer because of the way that your body works with fuel store.

Speaker 2:

I'm so glad you're talking about this, because the other thing is that if you have a great workout and you tick all those boxes you just talked about how much more you enjoy what you're doing and remember, we do things consistently that we enjoy so doing something like including carbohydrates before you exercise can help you enjoy, which can help you be more consistent, as opposed to, you know, cutting out the carbs. Is it true that if you want to lose weight and you're finding you're hungrier on days you exercise, do you need to actually eat more on those days, or does eating more undo your hard work? If you have carbohydrates, is that a good thing or a bad thing? What are your thoughts?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, such a great question. It makes me so sad that people think that they're not allowed to fuel their bodies or their physical activity. I'm going to answer that in just a second. I just want to say how much more fun is exercising when you're well-fueled. It feels so much better and it is so much more fun. And you know, you try going for a run not having eaten enough, but then try going for a run having and it's absolute chalk and cheese. It cannot emphasise that more. So yes, it is better for your body, but it also is much more fun across the board because it feels so much nicer.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I've made that mistake so many times and wondered why I was struggling so hard in a workout and it's so we all. Have you forgot to eat, lindy? Come on, you're a grown, you're an adult. Stop doing this, yeah.

Speaker 1:

But do you know what I have been sometimes thinking? It's not even necessarily maybe you forgot to eat, but what you ate before was maybe not you specifically, but maybe what somebody ate before isn't the right mix of nutrients. So maybe it was. You had like a tuna and salad, like can a tuna and salad for lunch and then tried to go for an afternoon training session and you're just not in any carbohydrate all day. I wonder you're struggling through that session because you have the energy available to be able to feel good in the session.

Speaker 2:

From this point home. Let's say you turn up to that afternoon session and you try to work out. You don't have the good energy. I think a lot of people on the internet are going to tell you that you will burn more fat as a result of doing that, which I think there is some evidence to say. But fundamentally, what Chloe and I are trying to encourage you to do is to say, if you feel it properly, you will actually turn up to that workout session so much more consistently.

Speaker 2:

And what we know for long-term weight loss is sure, everyone can go to the gym fasted and push yourself and endure it for maybe a few weeks, maybe a few months, but fundamentally, if we want to lose weight and you want to keep that weight off, you need to be able to do something consistently, and so this is why fueling is going to help you get that consistency. It might not lead to as quicker weight loss or as quicker. It would definitely actually lead to a quicker change in your body if you're building strength at a more rapid pace. But I think I always want you to think about that long-term gain here, and it's not just those short-term whims or those Instagram trends to follow.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I agree with you. I'm sure the internet will come at me harshly for saying it, but there's a couple of different ways to look at it as well, and part of it is hormonal, part of it is physiological. Yes, you can do some fasted physical activity or low carbohydrate available activity and you may see a larger burn of fat for that specific session. However, if you're looking at overall and I know we're not going to get into calories burning physical activity or anything like that but if you're doing a session well-fuelled, you will be able to push harder, you'll be able to lift heavier weights, you'll be able to run faster for longer, so you're going to end up burning more calories as a result of that training session than you would have otherwise.

Speaker 1:

I think here saying that you need to fuel up for a 15-minute walk in the morning, that's not what I'm talking about. But if you're going and doing a 45-minute high-intensity training session, if you're going out for a 10K run, going and lifting heavy weights, really doing it to be fueling up before those sessions and I kind of hate saying this, but it's true particularly if you're female. So when it comes to our hormones, particularly once we're sort of reaching that perimenopausal phase really across the board, but particularly once we're sort of getting that sort of late 30s, early 40s and a bit older. If you're trying to do these training sessions faster, it's actually likely to make a kind of feel lose weight, because it's putting so much stress on your body that there's more and more cortisol that ends up being released, which makes it harder, as you'll know, to end up losing weight. So, yeah, you might burn an extra couple of molecules of fat if you do the training session faster, but it's not going to help you in the long run.

Speaker 1:

So, please, please eat, please eat. It doesn't have to be, but please have something.

Speaker 2:

Please do. And also, I mean I will add I do think there is value in even if you don't have those intense exercises and in actually having something in the tank. I know lots of people who go on a 3K run and a 3K run is for them a really high output, as I think it is, I think it could be. I've done a 3K run faster than I've done a 3K run with some good fuel in my tank and I, just in that kind of distance, I'm noticing a huge difference in how my body feels. So this carb phobia can just die with all the wellness wankery, please. It is nonsense, please.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and you make a really good point there. That I'd like to drive home a little bit further is yes, I've mentioned a 10K run, but also, if your training is up to the point where going for a 3K run, 2k run, a 5K run, but as you build your fitness, it's going to be easier to build your fitness if you are doing it well fuel, because again, you're going to enjoy it more, like I'm R, it's going to feel better, it's going to encourage you to keep doing it, etc. So start where you are and if you can start from a place of being well-fuelled from the start, that's actually going to help you in the longer term, regardless of what your exercise goals are. If it's just, you know, if you're wanting to be that pre-kate, it's great. Or if you're wanting to start to go longer, where, like, whatever the goal is, your body works better when it's fueled.

Speaker 2:

Yes, chloe, your body works better when it's fueled, so I feel like that's the t-shirt I need. Just come back to this question about working out. I think we have this fear that if we exercise, we're going to get hungrier, and if we get hungrier, we're going to want to eat more, and then we're going to undo all the you know quote unquote good things that we did from exercise. What are your thoughts on this? Is it true?

Speaker 1:

Yes and well and I mean I didn't really quite answer your question before either of you know, do you need to eat or if you're exercising more? So I'm going to answer both of these in one go. So, first of all, if you're exercising, well, you do need to eat more. Because if you look at and it's a bit of a crude example but driving a car, the more you drive your car, the more you need to refuel it. So refuel it with petrol. Or if you've got an electric vehicle, that we need to plug it in and make sure you've charged up. So it doesn't matter if you're somebody who is doing, you know, a small amount of physical activity or a larger amount. If you're doing more, then your body will require more fuel to make sure that it can continue to function, so it can continue to feel good through that exercise. To come back to your other question around this fear around exercising and ending up more hungry Sure, you might, but there's a big but here. This is where fueling becomes so important and magical, because if you are eating the right things around exercise, then even though your body needs more fuel, you'll actually end up not feeling that you know that biting over hunger because you haven't eaten the right things at the right time. So you know we've spoken a fair bit about the carbohydrates before that. The other nutrient that's really important and as a, you know, a big rock is your protein. So having a source of protein with some carbohydrate after the exercise that you've done, because what that does is it helps to refuel your muscles, it helps muscle roast and repair to happen, but it also helps with managing appetite through the rest of the day.

Speaker 1:

So you know, a real trend of the last few years has been like the intermittent fasting, and I cannot tell you how many times I've had someone come and see me and say that you know they've gotten up at 6am, they've gone and done their you know high intensity class, or gone so they run or whatever it is that they've done. But because they're fasting, they didn't eat before and then also they didn't eat after, because they're not allowed to eat until midday. And then they can't understand why they're so ravenous through the entire afternoon that they end up eating well in excesses of what they would have. They just had a little bit of food around their training and that's why they're not getting the results that they're expecting and, like you know, we're not here to talk about fasting today. But If that's what you want to do and that fits your life, fine. But you need to eat around your exercise, otherwise you're going to end up super hungry and probably overeating, and that's where I think that misconception has come from.

Speaker 2:

And so even if you are let's say you're exercising, you're eating enough to refuel your body adequately after that. Let's also not downplay the effects of exercise from the fact that you now have more muscle mass, in the way that more muscle mass burns more energy. As you're at rest, as you're sitting at your desk, as you are scrolling on Instagram, you are burning more energy at that point and you also have more energy, so you probably feel more energetic in yourself, probably more likely to be moving in ad hoc ways. So I think so often when we do this whole calories in, calories out equation, we're missing is this huge picture of perhaps that the session itself is not what is burning extra weight, but it's all the kind of cumulative benefits of the fact that you're probably going to sleep better that night and how that impacts hunger the next day and your psychology and all of it.

Speaker 2:

So remembering this is the big picture, please. This is why I could say calorie counting is pretty stupid and why we want to be going right. What is going to make us feel good or eating towards that hunger? And if you are more hungry, as Chloe is so rightly saying, please make sure you are refueling. And I guess the question I think people often have is how do I know if I'm eating enough for the amount of exercise I'm doing, if I'm adequately or am I under eating? Am I overeating? What do I? How do I know?

Speaker 1:

This is, I think, a quite big question because there's a few different ways of answering it. We all have hunger and fullness cues and I think the difficulty for a lot of people is that those cues could get really messed up over time. So I think working with a dietitian to help you to work out what it is that your body needs without having to sit and count calories if you're not trusting your hunger and fullness cues is a really good way to go, because the dietitian will be able to help you to look at okay, this is what you're having, this is how much you need, without going and like you have to have X amount of calories in order to lose weight and support your training and everything. Because you know, as we all know, trying to starting to move away from that counting is actually a really positive thing and, over time, learning to listen to those hunger and fullness cues. Again I am going to say, one of the challenges if you are doing a lot of high intensity exercise again with listening to hunger and fullness cues, is sometimes, when you're doing something quite high intensity, that can actually dampen your hunger and fullness cues as well, so you might finish that session Logically. You know you need fuel, but physically you don't actually feel hungry, and that's a really common sensation that I find people put.

Speaker 1:

My suggestion in that situation is just have still have something.

Speaker 1:

Have something small, just to get that recovery process started.

Speaker 1:

So the an easy go to option that I find a lot of my clients are really comfortable with is having just having like just a straight protein shake, which I know might sound like, oh, that's going away from food, blah, blah, blah, but I find it's it's giving that dose of protein that's required.

Speaker 1:

It's really convenient, it's something which they can fit in and then when they do get more hungry later they can have, you know that proper breakfast. Or if there's going to be a big gap in between being at the gym and getting home, that's something that you can conveniently drink. You can get my words out today on the on the car ride home. So and it doesn't have to be that, it could be a little, you know, up and go or something like that Tell me that you have. Maybe home is two minutes away and you're happy to actually just sit down and eat. But I think my point here is, if you're not feeling super hungry, still need to have something, and sometimes having a liquid can be a little bit more than sitting down to a meal.

Speaker 2:

And I guess, to reiterate what your point here is, what you're talking about is that high intensity exercise. Let's say you're going for a run, you're doing a weight session, doing something quite intense. This isn't the 15 minute walk with your dog around the block, no. Or the yoga session. This is a bit more of that higher intensity thing where we do need to replenish that protein. We're looking for the recommendation still 20 grams within that 20 minute kind of time slot, and I think there's such a time and a place for something like a protein supplement where it is convenient and it is tasty and it does work. What I don't love is when it gets replaced, when we start replacing protein supplements with our food. That's not the game we love to play, but it has a time and a place.

Speaker 1:

I was about to say that, yeah, that protein shake to really, really right. It's not a replacement for breakfast. That's, if you're finding that you're not hungry and you just need something but you can't sort of fathom sitting down and eating a full meal, it's sort of a stock gap, something that you can have to get recovery started so you're not super hungry later, but then come home or go to the office or whatever it is that you're doing and have that proper meal then. So it's not in replacement. A protein shake is not breakfast. Love this.

Speaker 2:

Yes, everyone remember that. Okay, I'm loving this tangent in the conversation. I want to talk practically for people going okay so what, literally what, should we be having before a workout? What are some ideas, what are some things that you recommend to your clients?

Speaker 1:

So the most common things that I would recommend before exercise are things like a banana, some dates, a slice of toast, maybe a muesli bar, so something which is quite carb rich. And the reason we want that carb rich food is because it's going to supply your body with the energy it needs to perform in that physical activity.

Speaker 2:

Is there an ideal time before when we should have it? Let's say we've got an exercise class in half an hour. Is that the adequate time to be putting that in our body?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so this is something I talk about with my clients all the time. So I mean, ideally it's a bit longer than half an hour. But also, if you're getting up and going to that 6am class, I don't want you sacrificing your sleep. Something small like that banana or a couple of dates before that exercise class in the morning, that's ample and no problems. If you are someone who is doing larger amounts of physical activity, regardless of the time of day, then I would recommend a larger sort of more meal type thing, so like a bowl of cereal or a couple of slices of toast or something like that, and that would be about an hour before Would be better. But you know, when you press for time, just something small about half an hour before as you're getting ready, it's great.

Speaker 2:

Wonderful. And then what ideally could we be having perhaps during, let's say, we've got a session that is an hour or more? Do you suggest then refuelling while exercising?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so for exercise up to about 90 minutes, the recommendation is that you don't really need to have anything during. However, if it is something which is a particularly high intensity session, or some of the athletes that I work with, even if it is an hour but the key goal of that session is to really push and perform at a really, really high intensity pace. Sometimes we might have something during. That's where something like some sports drink or some energy gels or something like that might come in, but most of the time those would come in at about if that physical activity is going for about 90 minutes or more. That said, though, when it is going for that long, you wouldn't wait for 90 minutes to start to have your fuel. You start a lot earlier, so you'd be starting at about the 30, 35 minute mark to start to have something and start to get that in as a way to have that optimized energy availability for the training session, or for the event that you're doing.

Speaker 2:

What about after we've exercised? What should we be having there? What are some good ideas?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so that's where that combination of the protein and carbohydrate comes really in handy. So maybe it's having a smoothie for breakfast. So maybe it's oats, that protein we're talking about earlier, some milk, your favorite fruit, like some mangoes and berries and banana whichever of those sorts of things you enjoy Eggs on toast with some veggies is great. Maybe it's having porridge with some milk, some yogurt, some nut and seed, some berries. You're looking for something which is going to be a good source of protein, good source of carbohydrates, so that your muscles can repair and they can also refuel the carbohydrate for the rest of the day.

Speaker 2:

I think that's fascinating. I love hearing that and I love seeing those ideas as well. Chloe, thank you so much for the chat today. I have absolutely loved talking to you. If you would like and please, I recommend it please go follow Chloe. She's at Chloe underscore McLeod underscore dietitian on Instagram. Go and check her out, and if you do need to speak to a professional about something like it's gut health or sports nutrition, then Chloe and her team are perfect. I'll leave a link in the show notes so you can go and check out her site and make a consultation for yourself.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, Chloe. Thanks so much, Lindy. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 2:

Well, thanks for listening today. I hope you enjoyed today's episode and if you've got a spare moment, I would so appreciate if you could rate this podcast and let me know if you like it, hopefully giving it a five star rating, and you know, when you do that I go okay, people are listening, people like this. I'm incentivized to keep going. It keeps me feeling motivated and it's just a really small way that you could say thank you for creating this free content. Anyway, I'll catch you next week, see ya, are you in need of inspiration to help you cook healthy, balanced, delicious recipes that don't break the bank? If so, my free, budget friendly recipes resource is packed with more than 20 dietitian designed, nutritious recipes, each of which is super quick and easy and has been created with a low cost budget in mind. Say goodbye to stressing at the grocery store and learn how to eat healthily while saving up dollars at the same time. You can download it for free by the link in the show notes.

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