With the diets of overweight and inactive people having been studied in depth, nutrition researchers at the University of Newcastle are also turning their attention to the healthier end of the spectrum.
They’re investigating the preferred eating habits of recreational fitness buffs, as surprisingly little is known about popular food choices before, during and after regular exercise.
It follows a European study where exercise participants revealed their personal opinions on exercise and eating behaviours. By widening it to Australia, the research team is hoping to identify common traits that can inform future nutritional recommendations.
“People who exercise regularly or competitively tend to have strong beliefs about how food choices influence their performance and, vice versa, how exercise influences their appetite and diet,” researcher Dr Tamara Bucher said.
“Motivating themselves with certain foods can be a positive thing but, when it comes to weight management, if people try to lose weight by exercising then quite often it’s difficult because they may overcompensate with their food intake.
“There isn’t a lot of research data on this so we’re hoping to find both beneficial and disadvantageous eating styles to help provide targeted advice for individuals who want to lose weight.”
Dr Bucher is expecting some cultural differences between her native Switzerland and Australia. Swiss cyclists, for example, commonly favour non-alcoholic beer as a recovery drink after their ride, which conflicts with Australian taste buds.
An online survey has been developed for people aged over 18 who exercise more than three times a week, seeking responses to statements such as “After a good work out, I feel like I deserve a piece of cake”.
The survey takes about 15 minutes and offers the chance to win a $100 sports store voucher. Participants can opt to be informed about the study findings once finalised.
* The food survey is being conducted by Dr Tamara Bucher and Kristen Cohen from the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition and HMRI’s Cardiovascular Research Program in conjunction with Assistant Professor Simone Dohle from the University of Cologne (Germany). HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the Community.