Fuelling for activity

The goals of pre-exercise nutrition are usually to top up carbohydrate stores (glycogen) in the muscle and ensure adequate hydration. When planning what to eat before activity, it’s important to choose foods that are familiar and easily digested to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort.

Dairy foods like flavoured milk, yoghurt and dairy desserts provide extra carbohydrate and are low in fibre, helping to maximise gut comfort.

Many active people are concerned that consuming dairy foods before sport will cause a stomach upset and affect performance, but recent research has debunked this myth. A study in competitive female cyclists compared gut comfort and performance when they consumed either a breakfast containing three serves of dairy or a similar meal that was dairy-free. The study found no negative effects on gut comfort or sporting performance – even with daily dairy recommendations concentrated into a single meal before a strenuous cycling workout.1

1 Haakonssen EC, Ross ML, Knight LR, Louise EC, Nana A, Wluka AE et al. The effects of a calcium-rich pre-exercise meal on biomarkers of calcium homeostasis in competitive female cyclists: a randomised crossover trial. PLos One. 2015;10(5): e0123302.