FAQs of Eating and Exercise, Answered by Dietitan: Kelly Spec

September 22, 2017 - 5 minutes read

When it comes to the topic of nutrition surrounding exercise, we tend to hear the same questions time and time again from our clients. While many dietary choices are and should be made on a personal level, we reached out to dietitian, Kelly Spec of Spectrum Nutrition, to shed some insight into the general best practices on how to properly fuel yourself around exercising.

FAQ: I have a really hard time eating breakfast – do I have to force myself?  


“I would want to find out what it is that you don’t like.

Is it too early?
Do you dislike breakfast food options?
No time?

You will eventually have the first meal of the day, and ideally that would be within 1-2 hours of waking, but I wouldn’t force yourself into something you can’t stick with.”

FAQ: What should I be eating for breakfast when my workout is in the morning?


“If you have about 1-2 hours between breakfast and your workout, go ahead and have a full breakfast that is comprised of a high quality starch and enough protein from a protein food. Examples could be toast and eggs, greek yogurt with oats, etc.”

FAQ: What should I eat surrounding a workout?


“Ideally, what you’re eating wouldn’t change simply because you’re having a workout, so my recommendation would be to try and time your usual meals or snacks around your workout. For example, if you usually have a snack in the evening and you’re going to exercise at 4pm, I would try and time your snack for a little before your workout; however, if that’s not possible:

Before: Eating beforehand makes exercise a whole lot easier so try to intake around 100 calories of a starchy food that will break down quickly (ie. banana, toast, etc.).

After: Just have a normal meal and make sure it is comprised of all the macro nutrition components: Vegetables (half of your plate & at least 2 kinds), Starch (quarter of your plate) and Protein (quarter of your plate).”

FAQ: When should I eat surrounding a workout?


“When to eat is very individualized. After a regular meal, give yourself 1-2 hours to digest before you start your workout. A small snack you can eat until shortly before your workout starts.

After a workout you can eat immediately if you feel like it. Again, I would try and time your usual meals and snacks to coincide with the timing of your workouts so that you’re not too hungry before you begin, or waiting too long after you’re done.”

FAQ: Are shakes a good option for substitute meals surrounding my workouts? 


“Shakes are not necessarily good or bad, it all depends on what you’re putting in it. You could use a protein shake as the protein part of your meal if that’s easier for you or you can use it as one of your snacks, although it’s not necessary before or after a workout.”

FAQ: Do I need protein powders and supplements when I work out regularly?


“Protein powders and supplements are probably not necessary for most exercisers as you will get everything you need nutritionally from just eating the right foods throughout the day.

Keep in mind that it’s not simply intaking protein that builds muscle, but rather by actually resistance training. Just drinking protein powder is another way for you to include protein into a meal or snack, but won’t increase your muscle mass without resistance training. You could just as easily produce the same results of these powders by eating chicken with dinner, or greek yogurt for breakfast.”

FAQ: What do I need to focus on most when I want to lose weight?


1 – Keep your blood sugars steady
2 – Look for longevity of the strategy
3 – Keep yourself satiated
4 – Make sure nothing is ‘off limits’ – you need to learn to manage your eating, not create a set of strict rules that you have no hope of following

Do you have another question you would like to see answered here? Let us know and contact us at [email protected].