1. INTRODUCTION – WHY SPORTS NUTRITION?
Triathletes are tough and must be ready to give everything. Especially a long distance triathlon is arguably one of the most challenging single-day events. Competitions vary in distance, and therefore in the length of time that it takes to complete them. The most common races are:
• Sprint distance – 500 m swim, 20 km ride, 5 km run
• Olympic distance – 1.5 km swim, 40 km ride, 10 km run
• Half distance – 1.9 km swim, 90 km ride, 21.1 km run
• Long distance – 3.8 km swim, 180 km ride, 42.2 km run
In order to keep up the pace and finish strong the body must be supplied with the right amount of fluid and nutrients during endurance competitions or training. A healthy and varied diet that is adapted to your daily needs will give you a good foundation. Together with targeted sports nutrition strategy BEFORE, DURING and AFTER training, you can get the most out of your training and improve your performance.
2. SPORTS NUTRITION KEY PRINCIPLES
The three most important key principles of a sports nutrition strategy for endurance athletes are:
Hydration – supply of the body with sufficient fluids Energy – fuel for your muscles Recovery – nutrition strategy to optimize regeneration and help promote training adaptations
Dehydration (lack of water in the body) is one of the major causes of fatigue when taking part in sports. In general, physical and mental performance can be reduced when more than 2-3% of the pre-exercise body weight is lost as fluid.
Three simple steps to optimize your hydration level:
• Start always well hydrated
• During cycling and running drink at regular intervals
• When you finished rehydrate to recover faster
The longer the distance and the higher the temperature and humidity, the greater the need for fluids. The individual’s fluid need during endurance activities depends on various factors, e.g. duration and intensity, climatic conditions and sweating rates. A general hydration strategy for endurance exercise lasting more than 60 minutes is to drink amounts of circa 400-800ml/hour, consumed regularly in small quantities over each hour (e.g. 150ml every 15 minutes). If you compete in a hot environment, you will need a little more fluid per hour than in a cold environment.
Caffeine – A closer look
For many of us, a morning cup of coffee helps us to wake up, and a coffee after lunch gets us through the afternoon. Not only coffee contains the stimulant caffeine but also other caffeinated beverages or sports nutrition products. Caffeine has numerous actions on different body tissues. Already as little as 75mg caffeine per portion can increase mental performance.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently stated that caffeine intake in an effective dose of 3-4mg/ kg bodyweight one hour prior to the endurance exercise increases endurance performance and reduces perceived exertion. However, individuals respond differently to the effects of caffeine and it does not work for everyone.
Try out caffeinated products up to 60 minutes before or during prolonged rides or runs!
You will find caffeine in the following
PowerBar® products: ISOMAX Isotonic Sports Drink, ENERGIZE bar coconut, POWERGEL® Original black currant and green apple, POWERGEL® FRUIT Mango Passion fruit, POWERGEL® HYDRO Cherry, CHARGER, POWERGEL® Shots Cola.
PowerBar® ISOACTIVE and ISOMAX Isotonic Sports Drink are designed to maximise your rate of hydration while leaving you refreshed. Made up with water they provide a carbohydrate electrolyte solution which contributes to the maintenance of endurance performance. Sodium, the primary of the 5 main electrolytes lost in sweat, enhances the absorption of water during prolonged endurance exercise. In addition, sweat contains among other substances the minerals chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Physical activity requires energy. The more intense (higher speeds) or longer duration of the activity the higher the rate of energy used.
Carbohydrates are the primary and fastest fuel for endurance activities and can be stored as an energy source in our body in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscle. Muscle glycogen is a readily available carbohydrate source for the working muscle. On the other hand the main role of glycogen in the liver is to maintain a constant blood glucose level. As blood glucose levels drop hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) may develop resulting, for example, in reduced mental alertness and ability to concentrate.
You’ll only discover how far you can go if your ‘energy tanks in muscle and liver’ are stocked-up. As a rule for
pre-event meals, you should eat low-fat, carbohydrate-rich meal that is low in fibre and easy to digest
3-4 hours before your exercise (e.g. pasta with low-fat tomato sauce, cold or hot cereal with banana, honey and low-fat yoghurt; see also PowerBar® plate model page 10).
Small carbohydrate-rich snacks (e.g. PowerBar® ENERGIZE Bar, POWERGEL® SHOTS, ripe banana, toast with honey) should be taken up to 1 hour before. If you tend to suffer from pre-competition jitters and/or don’t feel like eating, try liquid carbohydrate sources instead (i.e. isotonic drink or gel dissolved in water) if you cannot face solid food.
When your glycogen stores are depleted, you are not able to continue cycling at a high intensity. Therefore, you need to provide your body with the right source and right amount of carbohydrate during prolonged running and cycling activities. PowerBar® ISOACTIVE and ISOMAX Isotonic Sports Drink, ENERGIZE Bar, POWERGEL® and POWERGEL®
SHOTS have been developed for endurance sports with C2MAX Dual Source Carb Mix, a special ratio of glucose and fructose sources. The recommended carbohydrate intake depends on duration and intensity of the activity and lasts up to 90g carbohydrates per hour:
After intense endurance training or competition recovery is key. Rapid recovery is a must during periods of heavy training and anytime you have more than one training session a day. In addition, sports nutrition strategies help promote training related adaptation processes (see graphic page 3) which helps you to get the most from one training session to the next.
It’s important that you give your body the right nutrients and the right amounts directly after exercise. The body needs
• Carbohydrates to refill its glycogen stores • High-quality protein to repair the damaged muscle tissue and to build new muscle tissue
• Fluid and electrolytes (especially sodium) for efficient rehydration
As soon as possible after training – ideally before taking a shower – the body should be supplied with a combination of carbohydrates and protein, in addition to sufficient fluid. If you don’t feel like eating a meal or solid foods try a recovery drink: PowerBar® RECOVERY Regeneration Drink is designed for immediate use after exercise to provide your body with high quality protein sources, carbohydrates and minerals.
A delicious PowerBar® PROTEIN PLUS 30% Bar in combination with fluid or a protein shake possibly mixed with a ripe banana are other options directly after a ride. To optimize the muscle glycogen stores this should be followed by carbohydrate-rich meals as increasing the total amount of carbs consumed after exercise is the most important factor for long-term recovery.
3. BE WEIGHT SMART
Your nutritional demands are not constant and depend upon your goals regarding body weight (maintain, gaining or losing bodyweight) and training volume. Heavy caloric loads are for heavy training. When you cut back on your training or racing, such as during the off-season or if you need to reduce your body fat, do the same with calories. A negative energy balance is the basic requirement for weight loss and body fat reduction. Additionally, weight loss strategies during intense training periods are not recommended, as you then run the risk of slowing recovery and increase the risks of illness and injury.
4 golden tips for losing body fat while sparing lean mass:
• Don’t restrict kcals too severely, especially when combining energy restriction with a training program
• The calorie intake can be reduced by avoiding meals and sauces that are rich in fat, as well as alcohol, soft drinks and sugary foods
• Select foods high in fibre, including whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables
• An increased protein intake during a diet maintains muscle mass better: Consume adequate high-quality protein sources, especially after exercise, and spread protein throughout the day. Examples of foods high in protein which fits into a calorie-reduced diet:
– Lean meat (e.g. chicken, ham) – Fish – Low-fat dairy products (e.g. cheese, plain yoghurt) – Tofu – Sports nutrition products like PowerBar® PROTEIN PLUS 80% or PROTEIN PLUS 92% shakes may assist timed protein supply and allow more food variety
4. PREPARING FOR A COMPETITION
Try new nutrition strategies in training first, especially as factors such as training intensity and duration play a crucial role in tolerances. For example, high exercise intensity or nervousness can reduce the bodies tolerance of food and drinks. Therefore, you need to work out yourself ‘what product‘, ‘when’ and in ‘which
amounts‘ suits you best.
Never experiment in an important race or in training the day before – you could still be suffering next day if you experiment the day before.
4.1 Carbohydrate-loading principle
If you’re planning to compete in a race that will require your body’s muscle glycogen stores to be at their maximum then carbohydrate loading – a special technique in which you taper your training one or more days before a race, whilst increasing your intake of carbohydrates – might be right for you. Done correctly, the net result is a significant boost in your muscle stores of glycogen.
Carb-loading methods have changed dramatically in recent years. Very complicated and extreme diet-exercise methods are no longer essential to increase muscle glycogen stores successfully. An effective and easy strategy to maximize your energy stores before a competition is to consume a high-carbohydrate intake
(8-12g carbohydrates/kg bodyweight) in the week prior to competition in combination with a reduced training schedule.
Examples of high carbohydrate-rich meals based on the PowerBar® plate model include:
• Porridge with low-fat milk and fruits
• Breakfast cereal with low-fat milk and banana
• Pasta with low-fat tomato sauce and 1-2 tablespoons of grated low-fat cheese
• Toast spread with a little low-fat cream cheese, jam or honey and a glass of fruit juice
Examples of high carbohydrate-rich snacks include:
• Dried fruits
• Banana smoothies
• PowerBar® NATURAL ENERGY CEREAL Bar
Glycogen is stored in the muscles together with water. That means that if you‘ve effectively super compensated your muscle glycogen stores, you‘ll naturally be a bit heavier because of the extra water you‘re carrying. This is why it’s important to try out before a competition. Be sure to practice your carbohydrate loading regimen before long training sessions. This will help you optimize the right types and quantities of foods and beverages you‘ll personally need to successfully carb-load, and will also help you get a sense of the performance benefits you can expect as a result.
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