Nutrition

How To Fuel Your First Gym Session Back

Raise your hands if you’ll be joining the virtual queue to book your time slot at the gym as soon as it opens 

We know that many people are feeling cautious about the return to the gym, so we’re here to take one less thing off your mind: how to fuel your first session back.  

It’s been a long while since many of us have been able to step into a gym which means that we may have changed our schedules and habits slightly. To help you hit the weights room and those treadmills feeling as ready as possible, we’ve compiled a list of things to check off before you walk through your gym doors again.  

 

1. Food 

This is the crux of our energy source. We know that you’re pros at what to eat before a gym session, but we’re here to give you a gentle reminder that it’s important to choose quality over quantity.  

Protein

If it’s been a while since you’ve had a satisfying gym session, begin to up your intake of protein so that your muscles have an adequate supply of protein to repair your muscles after your landmine squats.  

Increase your protein intake a day or two before you return to the gym so that on your first day back, your protein levels are comfortably where you want them to be 

This will help you to achieve your body goals without shocking your taste buds over the change from snacking on sweet and sour sweets to turkey wraps.   

Fats

Don’t forget to think about your source of fats. This macronutrient is just as important as ever and it isn’t the time to eliminate it from your diet 

If you’ve grown comfortable adding lashings of butter to your morning crumpets, gradually decrease the amount that you use so that you can also consume healthy fats throughout the day.  

Track Macros

You can still meet your macro goals while eating the foods that you’ve enjoyed over lockdown in a more controlled settingIf you’ve ditched tracking your macros over lockdown, now might be a good time to start that back up. 

If you’re looking for more guidance on what to eat pre-gym session return, use our macro calculator to recalculate what you should be eating in the run up to re-opening day. Feel free to adapt your macros from there once you’ve got back onto the macro goal train. 

 

2. Hydration 

Water, tea, coffee, energy drinks and squash — these all count towards your daily hydration intake. Even vegetables and fruit with a high-water content are great sources of fluid. 

We need to keep on top of our hydration levels as a vast percentage of our bodies are made out of water. All of our bodily systems depend on the intake of fluid, and that includes our heart rate and blood, which carries oxygen to our muscles.  

If you’re not a fan of plain water, try adding fresh fruit or veg to your glass. If you’ve never added cucumber, raspberries or a slice of lemon to your water then you’re missing out on a whole new flavour!  

Plus, there’s also the added bonus of a little snack once you’ve finished drinking your flavoured water… what’s not to like?  

If you’d prefer to chew for your water then opt for watermelon (the clue is in the name) and other melons, oranges and grapefruit. Vegetable wise, take a bite out of tomatoes, celery, cucumber and lettuce to hydrate your body.  

 

3. Sleep 

Something as simple as sleep can often be overlooked when it comes to our training. Rest and recovery are just as important as the quality of your sessions, sometimes even more so.  

Have you ever gone to bed feeling worn out and woken up after a long night’s sleep feeling rejuvenated and in a better mindset?  

That’s because your body produces human growth hormone (HGH) which increases the growth of muscle tissue, re-energising your muscles in the process1 

During sleep, you also produce prolactin, an anti-inflammatory hormone that benefits the recovery of your joints. The mechanism of sleeping also increases blood flow to your muscles, increasing muscular oxygen availability to assist with the breakdown of lactic acid.  

Moral of the story? Make sure you get enough sleep the night before your first gym session back. We know it’ll be difficult to sleep with all that pre-gym-opening-day excitement, but it really is in your best interest to get enough shut eye.  

 

Take home message 

Remember these three pointers and you’ll be as ready as ever to greet your much-missed friends, the rowing machine and squat rack.  

There’s no doubt that we’ve had to make some adjustments to our routines over the past few months. Fortunately, now’s the time that we can make those adjustments suit our lives even more by bettering old habits.  

Keep these three points in mind in the run up to the 25th July and your excitement levels won’t be deterred by thoughts of ‘I should have taken more time to fuel my first gym session back’.  

Need more advice on getting prepped for the gym?

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.


1. Dreams (2020) What happens to your body during 8 hours of sleep?. Available at: https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/what-happens-to-your-body-during-8-hours-of-sleep-2/ (Accessed: 15th July 2020) 



Shannah Hatch

Shannah Hatch

Writer and expert

Shannah Hatch began her career in the field of nutrition after attending a Farm to Fork workshop. She currently works as a Dietetic Support Worker, providing nutritional guidance and support within the NHS. Shannah has previously worked to create new supplement products to launch and took the ideas from paper into the warehouse. Her most enjoyable learning experiences include shadowing other health professionals and attending talks on a range of issues such as the link between our diet, female hormones and sport. Shannah has participated in many volunteering opportunities, including work with food banks, leading sports nutrition workshops and participating in trial studies. She hopes to continue making a difference in the industry, educating and collaborating with others to encourage good nutrition. In her spare time, Shannah enjoys rock climbing, running and trying to piece a tune together on the piano.


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