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Eating and exercise: 5 tips to maximize your workouts

Knowing when and what to eat can make a difference in your workouts. Understand the connection between eating and exercise.

Eating and exercise go hand in hand. When and what you eat can be important to how you feel when you exercise, whether it's a casual workout or training for a competition. Consider these eating and exercise tips.

1. Eat a healthy breakfast

If you exercise in the morning, get up early enough to finish breakfast at least one hour before your workout. Be well fueled going into a workout. Studies suggest that eating or drinking carbohydrates before exercise can improve workout performance and may allow you to work out for a longer time or at a higher intensity. If you don't eat, you might feel sluggish or lightheaded when you exercise. If you plan to exercise within an hour after breakfast, eat a light breakfast or drink something such as a sports drink. Focus on carbohydrates for maximum energy.

Good breakfast options include:

• Whole-grain cereals or bread

• Low-fat milk

• Juice

• A banana

• Yoghurt

• A pancake

And remember, if you normally have coffee in the mornings, a cup before your workout is probably OK. Also know that anytime you try a food or drink for the first time before a workout, you risk an upset stomach.

2. Watch the portion size

Be careful not to overdo it when it comes to how much you eat before exercise. The general guidelines suggest:

Large meals. Eat these at least three to four hours before exercising.

Small meals or snacks. Eat these about one to three hours before exercising.

Eating too much before you exercise can leave you feeling sluggish. Eating too little might not give you the energy you need to keep feeling strong throughout your workout.

3. Snack well

Most people can eat small snacks right before and during exercise. The key is how you feel. Do what works best for you. Snacks eaten soon before exercise probably won't give you added energy if your workout lasts less than 60 minutes, but they may prevent distracting hunger pangs. If your workout is longer than 60 minutes, you may benefit by including a carbohydrate-rich food or beverage during the workout. Good snack options include:

• An energy bar

• A banana, an apple or other fresh fruit

• Yoghurt

• A fruit smoothie

• A whole-grain bagel or crackers

• A low-fat granola bar

• A peanut butter sandwich

• Sports drink or diluted juice

A healthy snack is especially important if you plan a workout several hours after a meal.

4. Eat after you exercise

To help your muscles recover and to replace their glycogen stores, eat a meal that contains both carbohydrates and protein within two hours of your exercise session if possible. Good post-workout food choices include:

• Yoghurt and fruit

• Peanut butter sandwich

• Low-fat chocolate milk and pretzels

• Post-workout recovery smoothie

• Turkey on whole-grain bread with vegetables

5. Drink up

Don't forget to drink fluids. You need adequate fluids before, during and after exercise to help prevent dehydration.

To stay well hydrated for exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you:

• Drink roughly 2 to 3 cups (473 to 710 milliliters) of water during the two to three hours before your workout.

• Drink about 1/2 to 1 cup (118 to 237 milliliters) of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. Adjust amounts related to your body size and the weather.

• Drink roughly 2 to 3 cups (473 to 710 milliliters) of water after your workout for every pound (0.5 kilogram) of weight you lose during the workout.

Water is generally the best way to replace lost fluids. But if you're exercising for more than 60 minutes, use a sports drink. Sports drinks can help maintain your body's electrolyte balance and give you a bit more energy because they contain carbohydrates.

Let experience be your guide

Keep in mind that the length and intensity of your activity will determine how often and what you should eat and drink. For example, you'll need more energy from food to run a marathon than to walk a few miles. And try not to include any new products in your diet before a long-duration sports event. It's best to have previous experience to see how your system handles the food.

When it comes to eating and exercise, everyone is different. So pay attention to how you feel during your workout and to your overall performance. Let your experience guide you on which pre- and post-exercise eating habits work best for you. Consider keeping a journal to monitor how your body reacts to meals and snacks so that you can adjust your diet for optimal performance.

The Best Workout Tips of All Time

Sweat smarter with these timeless workout tips that *actually* offer results. Want to know the secrets to getting the fittest ever body in record time? We did too, so we went straight to research, personal trainers, exercise physiologists, and fitness instructors to round up the best workout tips to kick a fitness routine into high gear. Put a few of these moves, motivation, and mantras into action each week and you're guaranteed to see faster results!


It can save your life-really!

Regularly doing cardio and strength training reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and endometrial, colon, and breast cancers. The American Heart Association recommends exercising for 30-60 minutes on most days to reduce your risk of heart disease. (Whoa. This push-up test might be able to predict whether you'll have heart disease later in life.)

You'll feel less stressed and happier

Exercise has been proven to improve your mood and decrease anxiety. Studies show that the fitter you are, the better you'll be at handling the long-term effects of stress. One moderately intense 50-minute aerobic workout has been shown to significantly lower anxiety levels. And a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that exercise may be more effective than drugs in treating mild to moderate depression.

It strengthens your bones

Exercise increases bone density, helping prevent osteoporosis. High-intensity activity, like jumping and running, is most beneficial for preserving bone mass.

NEXT UP... The Best Cardio Workout Tips!


More than half of women fear being judged by exercising, and for many, that fear is enough to sideline them to a sedentary lifestyle.

In fact, the Victorian This Girl Can campaign blames this perceived judgement for the fact 60 percent of Australian women are not sufficiently active. "Women were worried about being judged for being too sweaty, having a red face, changing in front of other people, getting too muscular, or not appearing feminine enough,” VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter tells The Guardian.

"Women [also] felt like they were being judged for spending time exercising when they should be with family, because that’s more important. Or that they should be with friends, or studying, or working. [They also worried about] not being fit enough, not [being] good enough, not knowing the rules [or] holding the team back.”

Shelley Lask, from Body Positive Health & Fitness, believes a lot of this judgement stems from our culture having very rigid ideas of what exercise is and should look like. "'Diet culture' pushes the message that exercise has to be 'hardcore' to count as exercise, which is not the case at all,” she states.

"Diet culture [also] tells us that we're not good enough, that we can't trust our bodies and that the only people who are truly obedient to diet culture and meet the thin/fit ideal deserve to enjoy their bodies." But if we can challenge these outdated perceptions and re-frame exercise, Lask says many women can find joy in moving their bodies once more. Here's how.

Know you deserve to move

Lask is a firm believer that moving our bodies is our birthright and that there are no "right" ways of going about it. "Women need to know that their body belongs to them alone and they deserve to take up space and treat their bodies with unconditional respect and care," she says. "Moving your body can be joyful and empowering and [you] don't owe it to anyone to look pretty, feminine or coordinated while you exercise – or at all." As for the idea of being selfish for taking the time to exercise, Lask says this is sadly misguided. "Being physically active improves your physical and mental health, so taking time out for it is no more selfish than cleaning your teeth or getting enough sleep," she points out. "Everyone deserves to care for themselves and enjoy their bodies … and you can't pour from an empty cup!"

Find something you enjoy

If you're not ready to exercise in public, Lask says there are myriad ways to move from the comfort of your own home that will have fantastic health benefits. "You could do gardening, lift weights, jog on a treadmill, follow YouTube exercise, dance or yoga videos or hire a mobile personal trainer," she says. "If you do want to exercise outside the home, look for a gym, dance studio or sports club with a supportive or inclusive culture or consider some informal outdoor options, such as parks or walking trails." As for worries you're not naturally skilled enough for certain exercises or sports, Lask says it's important to remember that nobody starts out as a master. "Our bodies adapt to the stimulus we provide them, so there's no need to be naturally strong – it's something that can be built up over time," she says. "It can be useful to think of coordination as a skill that can be improved over time too."

Focus on how it feels, not how it looks

If you're worried about getting started exercising, Lask suggests having an "inside-out" focus rather than an "outside-in" focus (where we imagine or check what we look like from the outside). "[An inside-out focus means] noticing the sensations in our bodies, focusing on lifting the weight or catching the ball or feeling determined or invigorated," she explains. "Exercising is an opportunity for us to really connect to our bodies, remembering that our internal experience is important because we are important [and are] more than objects to be looked at."

Top Tips to maximise your Health and Fitness Goals PART 3

Amp up exercises by adding weights.

While you can get a heart-pumping workout using only bodyweight exercises, adding in weights gives your muscles an extra challenge. If you feel like you’ve mastered moves like basic squats and lunges, try holding a set of dumbbells or a medicine ball to make these types of bodyweight moves more challenging and effective.

Commit to getting your z’s.

Sleep is hugely important for many reasons, your fitness game included. "Exercise is a physical stress applied to the body, and muscles get stronger in the period after the workout when the body is repairing the damage Allowing your body to recover properly makes it easier to crush a workout the next day. Plus, when you’re sleep deprived, you won’t have as much energy to work your hardest, and you also increase your risk for injury.

Build in active recovery days—they’re important.

When it comes to building muscle, it’s the time you spend outside the gym when the magic really happens. When you work out, you create micro-tears in your muscle fibres. Later, post-sweat session, your body rebuilds those damaged muscle fibres stronger than before. Your body needs days off to repair, recover, and rest—without them, you miss out on the muscle making magic and risk overtraining if you work out frequently). This is where active recovery days, along with good sleep, come in. We’re not talking about lying still on your couch all day, though. On active recovery days, go for a walk, do some gentle stretching, or hit up a restorative yoga class.

Top Tips to maximise your Health and Fitness Goals PART 2

Get motivated with a solid workout playlist.

Get pumped up on your way to the gym and during your workout with songs that make you feel strong, powerful, and like you can do anything.

Put your phone on airplane mode.

Resist the urge to chime in on your group text or check that Snapchat message. Your workout is the time you get to invest in yourself, so turn your phone on airplane mode to avoid unnecessary distraction. Even better? If you don’t need your phone for your music or any workout apps, leave it in the locker room. The workout 'grams can wait.

Make a mental connection to your workout by thinking about the muscles you’re targeting during each exercise.

One way to make each and every exercise more effective is to think about the muscles you’re trying to engage, rather than mindlessly going through the motion. It can be very easy to disassociate from your workout by chatting with your friends or paying more attention to the instructor. But what we've seen is that if you focus on contracting the muscle that you're involving, then you can get a better result out of it.

Top Tips to maximise your Health and Fitness Goals PART 1

With 2020 just around the corner, most New Year resolutions include planning to lift more, run more, or sweat more. Chances are, you’re looking to do it in the most efficient and effective way possible. Sure, showing up may be half the battle, but the other half of the battle is made up of hard work, consistency, and training smart. Whether you’re a seasoned gym-goer or you’re new to fitness, here are 19 workout tips to take your fitness to the next level. And remember: doing any type of physical activity is a great first step.

Wake up with a cup of coffee before your morning workout.

The caffeine in a pre-workout cup of joe helps stimulate your central nervous system, so you’ll have a little extra oomph in your indoor cycling or boot camp class. Plus, in addition to a performance boost, research shows that it can actually make exercise feel more enjoyable, so you’re more likely to push harder. Drink up a half hour before you start sweating to give it time to kick in.

Walk into the gym with a plan.

Having a plan of action before you step foot in the gym can help you avoid wandering aimlessly around while you decide what to do next. This indecisiveness not only adds time to your workout, it also makes it less efficient, since you’re letting your heart rate drop. A clear plan is your secret weapon. Know what exercises you’re going to do, where you’re going to do them, and in what order. What exercises you’re going to do, where you’re going to do them, and in what order. It’s also a good idea to have a plan B, just in case the machine or floor space you were planning on using is taken. Move on to other parts of your workout and come back, or be armed with a backup exercise in mind that utilizes different equipment.

The 5 Most Essential Fitness Tips For The Busy Woman

In the process of losing weight and staying fit, women often end up making mistakes like eating too less, not working out as per their body type and expecting instant results. It is essential to concentrate on having a balanced diet comprising all the nutrients, and compliment it with regular workouts by making exercise a fun activity rather than a boring task. Here's a fitness guide for the new-age women who are too caught up with their work, having no time for fitness:

Healthy Breakfast- a must!

A healthy breakfast with the inclusion of fiber and glucose is imperative to retain energy for the entire day. Out of all the three-time meals, breakfast is the most important one which should be light, healthy and nutritious. Choose food that is rich in fiber, protein, calcium, vitamins, and glucose as it provides energy for the entire day, fulfilling the requirements of the body.

Replace junk food with healthy snacking

The very first rule of maintaining a fit body is to remove unhealthy junk and oily food from their daily routine as it will affect your exercise routine and immune system. So switching to healthy snacking rich in protein, calcium, fats, carbs, minerals, and fiber will help in maintaining weight and reducing the risk of several diseases.

Follow a structured exercise pattern

One should prepare a structured exercise pattern to be followed daily with simple exercises like walking, running to tone the body. It is advised that women should exercise for at least three hours in a week to reach their fitness goal.

Keep your body hydrated

"When we exercise we lose a lot of sweat for which water is the best source that revives the body with immense energy for the day. Drinking water in regular intervals will help you avoid dehydration leading to a healthier you.

Cut out the carbs

Women should avoid refined carb-rich foods like cookies, chocolates, honey and white rice as they spike your blood sugar level, produce more insulin and increase the amount of fat in your body. Therefore the daily diet should extensively be rich in protein, calcium, and vitamins.


We can’t over emphasise the importance of your core. And it’s got nothing to do with sporting a six-pack come summer. Your core is the base support system for the entire body, supporting not only our posture but also the function of our remaining muscle groups. By building strength in our core, including the abdominals and the obliques, we are going to take pressure away from our lower back and help to correct muscle activation when doing all sorts of movements, including running, cycling, weightlifting, and even sitting at our desks. There are many simple things we can do to improve core strength… even when we don’t have access to weights. So just because you’re not at the gym doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in a core-busting workout.

Just breath

Diaphragmatic breathing is crucial for core activation. By breathing into our stomach versus breathing into our chest, we are able to activate our core muscles to be ready to work. Our deep core muscles provide us with stability and we can easily switch these on by breathing in deep, and then breathing out by pulling our belly button towards our centre. Allow your belly to rise as you breathe in and suck the belly in as you breathe out. This way our core muscles are activated and are ready to get stronger.

Minimal weights

The core is our centre and it is an important tool to stabilise our systems. To carry the weight of our bodies, it is vital that we create body weighted strength in these muscles. There are many different core workouts that you can do to help build strength without any equipment. Our personal favourite that requires only your body weight includes various exercises from walk outs, planking to pendulum legs.

Hit the treadmill

Our favourite core workout is running! Running is an amazing tool to control your breathing, activate your core and build strength through these muscles. Running is an entire body workout, and the simple movement of one foot in front of the other requires engagement of many muscle groups, which over time will build significant strength. To ensure you’re using your core whilst running, spend two or three minutes beforehand practicing diaphragmatic breathing. This way once you head out the door, your core is ready to work!


Stress doesn’t always have to be a negative thing, but often times it’s to do with changes in behaviour and poor decision making. In this blog, we share with you a few tips on how to manage & relieve stress to help you feel better and improve your physical and mental health.


Writing out a list is a useful tool to help you visualise and understand what it is that’s stressing you out. Seeing these stressors written down on paper can help you focus on one thing at a time and allow you to feel more in control.


Exercising is important to help clear your mind and relieve mental stress while working on your physical form. When you exercise, you are left feeling better due to your stress hormones being lowered (cortisol) and your body releasing endorphins thus improving your mood. Hammer House Brunswick is designed around you with our club including tons of equipment, rows of cardio & world-class Personal Trainers. Fitting in a workout a few days during the week will help you feel more confident & get a much better sleep, leaving you a little less stressed.


Getting a good nights sleep helps to calm your mind and body, stabilises your mood and helps with cognitive function. If you are not sleeping enough, your body doesn’t have time to restore & relax, so it’s vital to get enough rest to feel energised the next day.


Believe it or not, food affects your mood. When you eat foods that are higher in nutrients, your body receives its essential vitamins to keep you fuelled, energised and alert. When you eat foods that are higher in sugar, have little dietary fibre and contain a high amount saturated fats, you tend to feel more sluggish & tried. Being mindful of your diet can determine how much energy & concentration you’ll have throughout the day, generally leaving you in a more positive state.


Consuming lots of caffeine can make you feel jittery and anxious. Typically, caffeine can be found in tea, coffee and energy drinks. Substituting non-caffeinated beverages like water, fresh juices & herbal teas can help you feel more relaxed and in control of your thoughts & actions.


When you continue to focus on the negative thoughts in your head, you’ll find the intensity and language will increase. To reduce this, it’s best to change your negative thoughts into a positive or neutral thought. By simply changing the language of how you think about these thoughts, will help you feel less anxious and stressed. For example “I can’t do this exercise” can be changed to “I find this exercise challenging” or “I hate this” can be turned into “I would much prefer”. It’s easier said than done, but with practice, you will find yourself combating these thoughts positively and their negative power will become muted.


It’s important to take time out for yourself, do something you love! You will feel re-energised & fulfilled in what you did for yourself & will feel happier overall. Practising self-care will help you to reduce stress and feel more positive. Make sure there’s a balance between friends, family & alone time.

Why Women should lift weights!

Here are three myths you’ve probably heard about women and weight lifting — and why you should feel good about reaching for more weight.

Myth No.1: It’ll make you bulky

Most women shy away from lifting heavy weights because they fear it’ll make them look bulky. This couldn’t be further from the truth! What we think of as “bulk,” or gaining muscle mass, comes from a combination of testosterone, consuming more calories, and almost daily weight training, If you’re not working muscle groups to failure six days per week or eating extra calories to bulk up, then lifting heavy weights will make you leaner — not bigger.

Myth No.2: Leaner muscle comes from lifting lighter weights

Out of fear of gaining bulk, many women tend to lift lighter weights while increasing the number of repetitions they complete for each exercise. At a certain point, your muscles will adapt to this strategy, and you’ll no longer increase your strength — but you will increase your endurance. But it’s simply not true that one strategy is better for building “lean” muscle than another. Lifting heavy weights can be just as effective at building lean muscle. In certain cases, it might even be more effective. The most important component of weight lifting is pushing your muscles to reach “progressive overload.” Essentially this means changing the amount of weight and reps you use for each muscle group, so they don’t adapt to a particular challenge. You can do this with both light weights and heavy weights — and still build lean muscle.

Myth No.3: Weight lifting doesn’t burn fat as effectively as cardio

Cardio is great for you — running, cycling, and other aerobic exercises increase your endurance, improve your circulation, and help regulate blood sugar. But cardio won’t help you build strength, define muscles, or lose weight as effectively as weight training. While you might burn more overall calories during a cardio workout, weight training increases your ability to torch calories long after you leave the weight room. Challenging weight training workout also helps elevate your metabolism for up to three days post-workout — increasing the efficiency of a healthy diet. The result? Less fat, more toned muscles, and a better metabolism. Want to know more? Be sure to speak to one of qualified Hammer House Personal Trainers about the best weight training exercises to help you achieve your goals.

Are you a Capsule Dieter?

In fashion, there's a concept called the capsule wardrobe: wearing the same limited set of clothes in different combinations, to save the time and energy of always having to find something new to wear.

The trend has now evolved into the capsule diet, aka the uniform diet: eating the same foods over again. Dietitian Melanie McGrice isn't opposed to the trend, pointing out that most people tend to eat the same "routine" foods anyway — but they're often the same unhealthy foods, whereas capsule dieting is focusing on eating the same healthy foods.

The obvious downside of eating the same foods all the time is that you eat the same foods all the time. The Australian Dietary Guidelines prescribe "a wide variety of nutritious foods" — that will ensure you hit all your nutrient targets, feed a diverse array of healthy gut microbes, and stop you from getting bored. You need a little bit of variety in your diet – BALANCE is key

A lot of people go the same chicken breast every single day, the same vegetables every single day. So you just need to mix it up a bit — swap your protein for another protein, such as lean red meat or tofu or egg or fish. The principle of Capsule dieting needn't be about always eating the same foods but rather following the same pattern. Say for example if your pattern is a serving of protein, a serving of grains and then three servings of veg, there's an awful lot you can do with that — grilled chicken breast with brown rice and veggies, or a stir-fry, or a roast. Be sure to speak to one of our qualified Hammer House Personal Trainers for more guidance