Nutrition for returning to the gym

29 Oct Nutrition for returning to the gym

In a step towards returning back to normal, gyms are back open! This is a perfect opportunity to all refresh ourselves on the importance of nutrition around training.

Being well fuelled prior to and following exercise improves the quality of our performance, reduces risk of injury, reduces feelings of fatigue and promotes a better recovery.

So, before we dust off the weights, here are some tips on how to fuel well around training! What is ideal gym nutrition?


The three core elements to be aware of are:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Fluid



Our bodies prefer to use carbohydrates as our main energy source and we can store any excess for later use. Our intake of carbohydrates should reflect the amount of activity we do day-to-day, whereby increased levels in activity require increased servings of carbohydrates.

Generally speaking, we should aim to have 1 – 3 ‘fist’ sizes of carbohydrates per meal or snack.

Carbohydrates can be found in bread, pasta, brown rice, fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potato or pumpkin.



Intake of protein is crucial to build and repair muscles, so it becomes especially important when we are active.

Protein should be consumed regularly (4 – 6 times) throughout the day.

Great sources of protein include meat, canned fish, eggs, dairy products and legumes.



Hydration is an important component of overall wellbeing, but also plays key role in muscle function.

Adults typically require 2 – 2.5 L of water each day. We should aim to be well hydrated prior to exercising. An easy way to check this is to look at your urine colour, we want this to be a very pale yellow.



The nutrition focus for pre-workout is energy to sustain your workout session, which will also improve performance. For that reason, it would be beneficial to choose an easy to digest carbohydrate about 30 – 60 minutes before you begin exercising. This will give you a top up of energy, which will assist you in feeling energised throughout the session. Examples include a piece of fruit or a slice of bread with jam.


smoothies for gym nutrition


After exercise, the focus turns to muscle recovery, replenishing energy stores and rehydrating. Protein and carbohydrates should both be included in the meal or snack following the gym, such as eggs on toast, yoghurt with fruit and muesli or a fruit smoothie made with milk. Ideally, this should be consumed within 30 – 60 minutes of finishing exercise. This is especially important if you attend the gym often!

Rehydrate with water over the course of the day. You can check your urine colour again to see how you’re going!

Our nutritionist and dietitian is conveniently available to offer gym nutrition advice for Glen Iris, Malvern East, Ashburton, Carnegie, Chadstone and surrounds.

For more specific advice, our dietitian is seeing clients on TeleHealth and in person the clinic on Monday mornings and Tuesday afternoons. BOOK HERE