University of Suffolk

Nutrition and exercise is all about balance and moderation


Any exercise you do needs to be appropriately fuelled by good nutrition. If it is not, your body will struggle to perform during exercise and recover from training sessions.

This means it is generally not a good idea to start an exercise training programme and an aggressive calorie restriction diet at the same time.

First, here are some key steps to achieve good nutrition behaviours:

1. Get an idea  about your current nutritional intake (calories, or kcal consumed). You can use a variety of smartphone apps or websites to help you do this. An example of one is My Fitness Pal – visit their site here

2. Compare your daily energy intake (calories consumed) against the value suggested by the smartphone APP or website you have chosen to use.

3. The first goal is to match your normal nutritional energy intake to these recommended values.

4. In terms of the make-up of this nutritional energy intake, it is important to follow healthy eating guidelines such as these on the NHS website.

Then we need to consider the exercise we are going to add on top of these normal daily energy intake recommendations. Our body’s ability to deal with, recover from, and improve following exercise training is as dependent on good nutrition as it is on the exercise training itself.
Important considerations include.

5. Good hydration is incredibly important. As a general rule, it is best to drink a little more water than your thirst sensation seems to make you think you want/need.

6. Avoid alcohol around the training sessions, as it will get in the way of good training adaptations in your body.

The amount of calories ‘burned’ during exercise is very person specific, but we can use a general ‘rule of thumb’.

7. Ten minutes of moderate intensity jogging will likely use some 80 kcal of energy. So a 30-minute run would require approximately 240 kcal of energy.

8. During exercise and just afterwards, we can use fast acting sugars (carbohydrates). You may have heard of the glycemic index; the higher the GI number, the faster acting the sugar is.  Bananas, energy bars/flapjacks are good here. Try and consume some protein within 30 minutes of finishing your exercise too.

9. During the rest of the day,we need to follow the usual good nutrition behaviours, but make sure any increased calorie expenditure from exercise is met with eating more good food (if required). Using a smartphone app like MyFitness Pal (others are available) or website to record your nutrition and exercise training will help you do this. Even if you are estimating the amounts of some foods or exercise performed, it is better than guessing.”

10. The key is to keep your blend of carbohydrates, fats and proteins balanced as per the recommendations. A common mistake is to try to follow a fat free diet. This is a bad idea. Your body needs healthy fats to support your immune system and help your body deal with the exercise training and life in general!


dr gavin

Dr Gavin Devereux
Associate Professor
Director of Sport Sciences and Coaching
University of Suffolk

Sport and Exercise Science

BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science is the scientific study of human responses and adaptations to physical activity, exercise and sport. It includes the study of physiology (including nutrition), biomechanics and psychology.

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Sport Performance Analysis

BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science is the scientific study of human responses and adaptations to physical activity, exercise and sport. It includes the study of physiology (including nutrition), biomechanics and psychology. 

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Exercise Prescription & Public Health

Exercise prescription is a dynamic and rapidly evolving scientific discipline aimed at understanding how exercise can be used effectively to manage clinical conditions and improve human health. 

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“I had just lost my confidence doing something that I’d always done, which is why I did the Great East Run (GER) Outreach programme in 2017. Within four weeks the programme had given me some of my confidence back and I was able to run for 30 minutes or so.”

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