Evening Refuelling

If you train in the evening, Liam Holmes, our resident there are some areas that you need to focus on with regards to your nutrition and your sleep:

There is research out there that suggests the time of day you train can have a big impact on the physiological responses to your session. In my opinion it comes down to just getting your session done! Here is some advice to help you structure your nutrition for evening training and recovery.

FUELLING THROUGHOUT THE DAY

Whether your training starts at 6pm or 9pm you have to ensure that you are fuelled adequately for the session. Too often I see athletes that will eat lunch at 1pm and then not eat again until after the session or grab something on route to training. Regardless of your training stimulus you need to be fuelling your body by providing enough calories over the whole day. Remember you are providing your body energy for work not just training.

Having a mid afternoon “mini-meal” will help you in three ways:

  • It will provide calories to support your evening training session.
  • It can help to prevent that energy slump mid afternoon or early evening.
  • It will support your recovery and help sleep (more on this later).

What you choose to have for your mini meal depends on your personal goals, training type and volume. But some meals I suggest to the athletes I work with:

The reasoning behind a mini meal is it will combat over-snacking, which often doesn’t leave you full enough (which in turn causes more snacking).

REFUELLING CORRECTLY

Ever struggled to get to sleep after an evening training session? Laying in bed wide awake is not good for any athletes recovery. Luckily there are specific foods and nutrients can balance hormones and neurotransmitters that have been either elevated or suppressed during any evening exercise.

Boosting melatonin, serotonin and growth hormone levels will help to induce a nice healthy sleep and kick-start your recovery. If you get your nutrition on point you can take advantage of this spike in growth hormone to maximise your recovery.

Foods that will help you achieve this include carbohydrates. Yep that’s right I said it – eat carbs in the evening! Why? After exercise your body is primed to absorb carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores. This is absolutely essential if you are training or competing the next day. For those of you thinking about training low or metabolic flexibility I will be writing an article on these very soon.

Carbohydrates will also lower cortisol levels due to insulin secretion. The consumption of certain foods that increase the availability of tryptophan, alongside synthesis of serotonin and melatonin, will also aid in promoting sleep.

Eating some protein containing Omega-3 fatty acids is also recommended. I don’t need to tell you the importance of protein for muscle repair, but eating quality protein in the evening can also increase your serotonin levels. The very last thing you want to be doing is eating foods that heighten the inflammatory response. Foods that are deep-fried or high in refined sugar should not even be on your radar.

Here are some recipe ideas that I always suggest, that help induce healthy sleep: