As a dietitian I’m all about using real food to meet the body’s needs. I meet a lot of people who enjoy taking frequent exercise but who are also balancing a stressful job and a social life! There aren’t quite enough hours in the day and it’s easy to let your nutrition suffer as a result.

Grabbing a product off the shelf that claims to give you everything you need is tempting but don’t be fooled into thinking this can replace a balanced diet. What’s more, where ever there’s a strong marketing claim slapped onto a label there always tends to a real food alternative even if it seems a little less glamorous!

Sports drinks low down

A sports drink is defined as an isotonic fluid that provides a source of easily absorbed carbohydrate together with electrolytes and water to replace losses efficiently.

They are a useful addition to your hydration if you are exercising at a high intensity for over an hour. This level and duration of activity means that your body’s fuel reserves are inadequate to meet your needs so your performance will benefit if you top up your carbohydrate stores. Homemade sports drinks are a cheap alternative to commercial brands and do exactly the same thing!


  • 200mls high juice
  • 800mls water
  • ¼ – ½ tsp salt

Bottom line: Drink according to your thirst and if you’re going at quite a pace for over an hour use a carbohydrate drink.

Protein and Exercise

Despite what you often hear, protein requirements for most active people can genuinely be met easily through diet. What might be a little trickier for someone with a hectic lifestyle is getting good nutrition in, at the right time in relation to exercise and in a form which is convenient.

To repair and replenish muscles, protein and carbohydrate taken together within 30 minutes of exercise has been shown to be more effective. This becomes particularly important if you’re exercising multiple times a week at a relatively high intensity.

Bought shakes can be an advantage for convenience but if you have access to your own kitchen soon after exercise, or are organised to take stuff with you, you can create your own post exercise re-fuelling snack for a fraction of the cost.

For example:

  • Homemade berry smoothie
  • Cereal bar and a glass of milk
  • Low fat fruit yoghurt and slice malt loaf
  • Cheese and crispbreads
  • Ham sandwich
  • Low fat yogurt and fruit salad

Bottom line: It’s more about timing than amount and if you’re organised real food can be just as good!

Look out for more myth busting courtesy of Laura in the future!