It is probably quite apt that we talk about nutrition with Christmas fast approaching and all the fare, not necessarily nutritional, that will be consumed!
Seriously though, nutrition is probably the one thing that we see always ranking below training regimes and recovery sessions etc. However, it is probably the most important part of an athlete’s preparation for training and competition.
The food we eat has an influence on our training, performance and recovery. Not only is the kind of food we eat throughout the day, but also the time of day that has an impact on our performance levels and the ability to recover after physical activity.
As an athlete care should be taken as to what food we put into our bodies, but the food eaten before and after exercise is the most important in sports nutrition and preparing for the activity directly before and directly after exercise. As a general rule of food should be consumed between 2 and 2 ½ hours before exercising and should be high in carbohydrates, low in fat and moderate in protein.
The pre training meal could look something like this;
A sandwich on whole grain bread, lean protein and side salad, or an egg omelet and whole grain toast topped with avocado spread and a cup of fruit, or
lean meat, brown rice and roasted vegetables.
For a quick meal something like a smoothie made with milk, banana and mixed berries and a splash of protein powder or whole-grain cereal and milk or a cup of oats topped with banana and almonds
Post exercise, if your main goal is to build muscle, try to eat at least 30g of protein and 30g - 35g of carbs within about 15 minutes of your workout. Otherwise you can eat within 45 minutes to an hour after your session.
Sufficient carbohydrates are required to prevent muscle fatigue and stabilize blood sugar and glycogen levels. Beneficial fats are converted into fuel, energizing the body and improving endurance. Protein is needed to build muscle tissue and boost energy.
When it comes to race day assuming that adequate carbo-loading was done and an athlete follows a well balanced diet (not consuming a balanced diet will affect your performance) there are a few guidelines to follow.
If an athlete is consuming a balanced diet the body will be primed for 90 – 120 minutes of energy requirements at peak performance and events under 90 minutes will require no additional fuelling.
Events over 2 hours will require fuel during the event, for example a 70.3 or full Ironman event.
Breakfast before a race could take on the form of a smoothie and some toast with jam, but, don’t try anything you haven’t tried before. Prior to the swim start most athletes sip on a carbohydrate drink until the start line and then knock back a pre-swim gel.
During the race aim to consume around 90g of carbohydrate per hour around 10 minutes into the bike ride. The bike offers a good opportunity to consume solid food. Food like sandwiches with peanut butter and jam in bite-sized chunks or even mashed banana and honey. A general guide is to feed every 15 – 20 this will keep consistency and sustain energy stores.
On the run apply the same rule of thumb, roughly 90g of carbohydrate per hour, but, judge it by the way you feel. Be flexible as your heart rate will be higher, your gut will be taking a pounding from the running, so you may only be able to ingest less.
Overall dehydration is the challenge, consuming around 500ml of fluid per hour is the norm, however, some athletes will consume up to 750ml per hour, this will depend on the individual and the climate on the day.
Definitely don’t overdo the hydration as it has the potential to cause Hyponatremia, the longer you race the greater the potential, especially in the heat. Hyponatremia is when the consumption of fluid is to great resulting in the dilution of the salt content in the blood.
It is critically important to plan well and ensure the fuel is taken early enough so as to avoid going into “no mans land”, but not too early resulting in a stomach fuller than it needs to be.
That all said, it is a good idea to consult a dietician to work out an eating plan for you, something that will suit your individual requirements.
Now that we have that covered, get out and take care of business people, get the show on the road. When it comes to world class sporting apparel we have you covered, no matter what your sport is.
The Element Twenty Two Team