Nutrition or Exercise: Where to Start?

Nutrition or Exercise: WHere to Start?


If you’re looking to lose weight, bulk up or simply get healthier, there needs to be a balance between nutrition and exercise. But where should you start? Tackling both at once can be a daunting task and often lead to you throwing in the towel all together. So here are the reasons as to why you need to start with one and why exercise should be your first step!


Exercise releases endorphin’s as well as adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine. These feel good hormones mentally prepare the body, leaving you wanting more and motivating you to make nutritional changes.  Start with exercise and work on 4 aspects of fitness which we refer to as the FITT principles-



Increase the frequency of your training. Start with 1-2 days a week, see how you feel after 2 weeks and bump it up to 3 when you feel you’re up to it.



Increase the intensity of your workout. Whether that be increasing the amount of repetitions, performing supersets or decreasing rest time, this is one area that will maximise your fitness gains.



Working out for longer periods of time will improve fitness. The intensity needs to remain high and the workout time needs to increase to benefit here.



Incorporate different types of training into your program. This helps to keep training exciting and motivating and pay particular attention to weaknesses. These are often the exercises or skills that you do not like to do (sled pushes, burpees, battle ropes!!).

Once you have given exercise a trial run over a 4-6 week period, slowly increasing the frequency, intensity, time and type, your body will be shouting at you. Craving nutrients!! This is a natural response to exercise and the beauty of the human brain is that it knows when it needs to be fuelled and will show signs as to what your body needs in terms of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

Same as exercise we need to start with small changes and slowly change the way we perceive food. Simple changes can be made weekly or fortnightly such as eating breakfast, not skipping meals, portion sizes, decreasing processed and sugary foods and increasing vegetable and protein intake.

Whether you want to start with nutrition or exercise, you need to start small and slowly build towards your goals. We don’t want to shock the body but gradually make nutrition and exercise a habit. Start with exercise, listen and feel the body, then begin to make nutritional changes.

Should You Be Eating Less or More When Trying to Lose Weight?

Should you be Eating Less or More When Trying to Lose Weight?


Have you ever heard of the saying “food is fuel for the body”? They say that for a good reason. How do you expect to lose weight or build muscle without having the vital ingredients for the body to be able to do this? So when eating for weight loss ‘dieting’ isn’t the answer. The more efficiently you can control your body through nutrition and exercise, the more food you will be ALLOWED to eat, as the body will require more nutrients!

Cutting carbs, rapid weight loss diets or not eating all together may make you lose weight quickly, however often make you put that weight back on just as easily and have you feeling tired and under nourished. I have found with many clients that when you go back to eating regular foods you will fall back into your old ways.


Cutting carbohydrates can play a role in weight loss but there still needs to be sufficient amounts for the body to run efficiently especially when exercise is involved. Hence, why people often feel hungry when they begin to exercise. If you’re trying to lose weight, this can often be counterproductive, unless you find the right balance of healthy, filling foods.


Refined or simple carbohydrates such as white flours, white rice, pasta, lollies and sugary drinks will spike blood sugars and have you feeling sluggish.

These carbs lack the fibre found in complex carbs (whole grains, vegetables) and are metabolized by the body much quicker, giving you a short burst of energy followed by that large dip in energy levels you often get after eating lollies or drinking soft drink.

Also, the brains sole source of energy is glucose. So without carbs the brain wouldn’t function!!

Some great tips when eating for weight loss include listening to your body, taking small steps, goal setting, stress management and nutrient timing.

Listen to your body

A 3 year old girl said to me “I’m listening to my body” at the gym last week, when I thought about it later on that day, that’s exactly what more people should be doing.  When the body is hurting, we sense it, when the body is craving certain types of food, we sense it. We need to be able to understand what the body actually wants. When craving specific foods, it may be shouting at you for specific vitamins or minerals.

Check out this chart and see if your cravings are satisfied by the healthier option.

Take Small Steps

  • Start each day with a nutritious breakfast e.g. eggs, avocado, spinach and tomato.
  • Get 8 hours of sleep each night, as fatigue can lead to overeating.
  • Eat your meals seated at a table, without distractions.
  • Eat more meals with your partner or family.
  • Teach yourself to eat when you’re really hungry and stop when you’re 80% full.
  • Reduce your portion sizes by 20%, or give up second helpings.
  • Eat a nutritious meal or snack every few hours. This is good for high protein foods as it stops the breakdown of muscle but overall calories throughout the day will affect weight loss to a greater extent.
  • Drink more water and cut out sugary drinks including cheap juices which are often loaded with added sugar.
  • Flavour your foods with herbs, vinegars, mustards, or lemon instead of fatty (sugary) sauces.

Goal Setting

Attack small goals each week such as trying a new vegetable (there is so many available at fruit market), swapping a portion of pasta for extra vegetables or going for complex wholegrain carbs instead of simple refined carbs. These should lead to your number one goal and keep you on track. By hitting smaller goals gives you a positive feeling and increases motivation when you accomplish a new goal each week.

Stress Management

Stress hormones such as cortisol plays an important role in weight management and an imbalance of these hormones can often lead to weight gain.

Cortisol is important for the maintenance of blood pressure and the stimulation of fat and carbohydrate metabolism for energy and the stimulation of insulin release to maintain blood sugar levels. Cortisol is highest in the morning which helps to stimulate the appetite and this is why a nutrition breakfast is important to keep the body and the brain performing throughout the day. Imbalance of cortisol levels can lead to an increased appetite, storage of visceral fat and imbalance of other hormones

Changing Habbits

Changing habits should be a slow process, over a month, 6 months or even a year. It’s easy to fall back into these habits, which is why they became habits in the first place. So you need to rid of them the same way you brought them in, slowly but surely. This may put you out of you comfort zone but eventually it will feel ‘normal’.

Nutrient Consumption

The amount and timing of nutrients is significant for weight loss. The amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats varies from men to women, age to age and size to size but cutting back on portion sizes particularly with simple carbs and saturated fats will help you lose the weight.

Increase the number of vegetables/legumes/ beans, swap saturated fats such as margarine and processed meats for unsaturated fats such as avocados, nuts and salmon and decrease the amount of pasta, rice, and starchy carbs.

The body can only metabolize so much protein at a time so it’s best to take your daily protein over 4 to 5 meals or snacks. This is why nuts make great snacks!!  You need approximately 0.75g/kg – 1g/kg of protein per day and you would need to increase your daily intake with more resistance training.

Protein has a greater thermogenic effect than carbohydrates or fats which means it makes the body work harder to break down the protein, burning more calories and having a greater contribution to weight loss.

So if you have cheated and scrolled right to the bottom… eat more to lose weight.

Our next blog will go into more detail about nutrient consumption and timing… stay tuned!

Nutrient Timing

Nutrient Timing


What is Nutrient Timing?

Nutrient Timing simply means eating specific nutrients (macronutrients) in specific amounts at specific times such as before, during and after exercise. By altering nutrient intake, we can enhance workout performance, promote health and stay lean.

Nutrient timing strategies are based on how the body handles different types of food at different times of the day. The body has particular windows of opportunity where nutrient absorption and utilisation is much greater, especially before and after exercise.

The benefits of nutrient timing include:

  • Increased athletic performance
  • Improved body composition
  • Enhanced workout recovery
  • Increase nutrient utilisation
  • Improved overall health


Macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) are essential in providing energy for the body and the timing of these nutrients can have an influence on how efficient this energy is used, as well as where this energy is used.

When exercising regularly the body runs more efficiently and is primed for fat loss (or fat gain) as well as muscle gain (or loss).  Meaning the right foods at the right time can enhance your efforts in the gym and the wrong foods at the wrong times can affect your performance.

Carbohydrate (glycogen) stores can be increased to 200% when consumed immediately after exercise. This is known as the ‘metabolic window’ is only open for a short period before glycogen resynthesis is decreased. Delaying carbohydrate intake by 2 hours can decrease resynthesis by 50%.

This ‘metabolic window’ is the 30 minute period after exercise which nutrition can shift the body from a catabolic state (break down of molecules) to an anabolic (building of molecules) state.

These carbohydrates are oxidised and used as fuel stored in the muscle and not as fat meaning your body is fuelled (with extra energy) for the rest of the day and your next workout. Also, adding protein to your post-workout carbohydrate meal can increase the rate of glycogen resynthesis.

Protein consumption immediately after exercise is essential for muscle growth and repair. When working out (particularly weight training), you get microtears and amino acids are essential to rebuilding this muscle tissue. This is also a part of the ‘metabolic window’ and protein should be consumed within 30 minutes of exercising.  The body can only absorb approx. 25-35g of protein in one sitting, so you don’t need a lot to aid this growth and repair. 100g of chicken will provide 31g of protein, enough protein for the next 3-4hrs. All excess will be excreted from the body.

Although protein, fat and carbohydrate consumption around times of exercise are important, this only makes up 5% of our daily consumption. Consistent protein, fat and carbohydrate intake is as important, if not more important throughout the day, as this makes up the other 95% of our diet.

Post Workout and Anytime Meals

Post-workout meals should be slightly higher in carbohydrates with sufficient protein for muscle growth and repair e.g. 100g grilled chicken breast, 1/4 C brown rice, steamed broccoli or 1 slice wholemeal bread, 1 tbsp. peanut butter, 1 banana.

Anytime meals should be lower in carbohydrates, sufficient in protein and unsaturated fats to maintain energy levels and muscle tissue e.g. 100g tuna, salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado or handful nuts or hummus and carrot sticks.

A few important notes to take out of the blog are:

– Protein, fat and carbohydrate intake outside of exercise (95%) will have more of an impact on muscle growth and repair, than only consuming nutrients before and after exercise (5%).

– Keep meals simple and well balanced and modify them according to exercise needs and requirements.

– The body can only utilise so much protein every 3-4 hours, so keep it consistent with correct quantities throughout the day.

This blog has concentrated on macronutrients and we will look further in micronutrients in the blog!!