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Nutrition

AFL: Fit and Fuelled

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Written by Swisse Wellness

You’ve heard it before: food is fuel. It’s also energy, micronutrients, macronutrients and more – basically all those things you need a nutrition degree to understand.

Whatever nutrition tribe you follow, the goal is the same – food to maximise performance, which is something sports dietitian Simone Austin is all over. She’s got 20 years experience which includes 3 premiership years at Hawthorn AFL Football Club.

Whether on the sporting performance or in real life, here are Austin’s top tips to help you eat like a winner. Follow them, stat.

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STAY HYDRATED

“Water is best for most of us for most of the time. Whether we are active or not our body needs a constant supply of fluid. When exercise is greater than 90 minutes a fluid source with electrolytes and carbohydrate might be beneficial. Milk is also a great rehydration fluid containing water, protein and electrolytes. See what one is right for you! Need a clue? Peak in the bowl. If your urine is the colour of straw you’re well hydrated.”

DON’T CARB DODGE

“Carbs are not evil, should not be ignored and can be enjoyed without guilt. The key to carbohydrate foods is getting the quantity you need right for you. Modify the quantity eaten depending on the activity level of the day, what you are fuelling for in advance and how hungry you are. It is quality over quantity in most cases. This means skip the lollies, soft drinks and biscuits that provide little other than sugar and go for fruit, wholegrain bread, wholegrain cereals (greater than 7grams of dietary fibre per 100grams for breakfast cereal is a good start), quinoa, rice, legumes/lentils, dairy and even pasta – just not Mount Everest.”

POWER UP WITH PROTEIN

“Eat your protein spread out over the day for the maximum results for muscle repair and gain. We all want to maintain our muscle particularly as we get into older age so we can stay active and enjoy life to the max. Protein is not a nutrient just for the young. Having some protein at each meal and snack with a total of around 1gram per kilogram body weight for the day depending on your individual needs. This can be milk, yoghurt, beans or eggs at breakfast, lean meat, fish, cheese or tofu at lunch, nuts, seeds, yoghurt, tuna, beans or milk for a snack and some lean meat, fish or legumes in the evening.”

EAT MORE VEG

“You know this already, but to really hammer it home - vegetables, vegetables and more vegetables. Vegetables are all superfoods in my eyes. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and phytonutrients. I can not see anything negative about veggies. Try for five a day like the guidelines say.”

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EAT FOR ENJOYMENT

“Getting the basics of a diet rich in vitamins and minerals and nutrients is essential, I suggest 80% of the diet if you are striving for the top at elite sporting level. But you can also enjoy some less nutritious foods in our diet sometimes, too. Food is more than the nutritional value it provides, it also has emotional, cultural and social enjoyment to it. Eat these foods without guilt, slowly and to an amount that is still allowing you to feel nourished, fit and fueled!”