DAILY NUTRITION CONCERNS
Proper nutrition plays one of the most crucial roles when it comes to sports performance. What you put into your system consistently through the day will influence your ability to perform. I does not matter how fit, fast or strong you are, if you do not eat correctly you will never reach your full potential.
With this in mind the question often asked is what should you eat before, during or after raining or racing session? However a step needs to be taken back here, because how you eat from the time you wake up in the morning until you go to sleep at night plays the most critical factor. It does not help to eat well only before a training or racing session when most of the time you are not eating well at all.
Here are a few guidelines to eating healthily in order to benefit properly from pre, during and post training nutrition.
Eat Foods that Agree with you
A lot of people indulge in foods purely because they enjoy them even though in the back of their minds they know it impacts them negatively. Examples of this are foods which cause digestive discomfort such as dairy, wheat or gluten foods which can cause intolerance in a variety of forms. If you do suffer from digestive discomfort or allergies you need to analyse your nutrition first and cut out certain types of foods until you discover what is causing the issue. Listen carefully to the messages your body gives you as any food intolerance will be shown in the form of various symptoms which you need to take note of and eliminate the source that is impacting you negatively.
Eat Timeous Meals for Energy
Eating too few meals, skipping meals and eating the wrong foods at the incorrect times can cause a negative impact on the body. Weight issues can occur as well as energy levels compromised which can lead to periods of fatigue or ill health. Eating the appropriate foods at the correct time will enable you to have balanced energy levels, better mental focus and a stronger immune system allowing you to perform at your best.
Avoid excessive Indulgence and Stimulant foods.
Eating & drinking too many indulgent foods sends your body into a spiral. Stimulants such as caffeine can have a benefit but excessive consumption will be detrimental. You should try to limit coffee or tea to a cup a day preferably in the morning, after or before workout. Alcohol actually impacts the body’s ability to recover properly and at the same time it will impair performance if consumed anywhere from 48-72hrs before an event. Sugar loaded foods such as chocolates, pastries and breads also cause blood glucose issues and can affect your energy cycles negatively as well as contributing to unwanted weight gain.
The Percentages Game
Eating healthily is a percentages game. As an example if you consume 60 healthy meals a week and 5 of the 60 meals are considered to be indulgence or treat meals, it still means that over 90% of your diet is very healthy. However if an athlete only eats 20 meals a week and 5 of them are indulgent meals it means that 25% of the diet is out the window. Monitor your eating on a weekly basis in order to get a good snapshot of where your percentage level of healthy nutrition lies. Try to get it as high as possible.
It is recommended drinking at least 30-40ml per kilogram of bodyweight a day preferably in the form of water. Add training and stimulants such as coffee or other drinks which have a diuretic effect into this equation and fluid requirements climb. When you train you need to replace lost fluid, always drink to thirst when exercising it’s a very accurate measure of fluid need.
Mix it Up
Vary your foods in order to give yourself a wide range of nutrients. Depending what type of eating plan you follow whether low carb high fat or a higher carb diet try to get in plenty of fruits and vegetables daily. Preferably vegetables on the higher end. When selecting carbohydrates rather aim for complex carbohydrates such as quinoa, wild rice and unprocessed oats which provide more blood glucose stability meaning healthier energy levels. Ensure you consume healthy fats with easily digested proteins such as lean meat or vegetable proteins.
People tend to put a focus on dinners or breakfasts being the meal of the day. As an athlete your recovery meal should be your meal of the day. Post exercise meal is critical in aiding the body’s recovery process. The type and size of meal will be dependent on the duration and intensity of the exercise session. Depending on your diet take note of how you are feeling when completing the session and fuel yourself accordingly. As an example if you have done a very high intensity session for a long period of time, you might want to consider a higher carbohydrate intake post exercise to assist with glycogen replenishment and blood glucose stabilization. However if you have done a short fairly light training session you could opt for a lower carb meal and put the emphasis on protein and fat. Each person is unique in what they require and you need to experiment to find out what works best for you.
Eating fast and processed foods is a sure way to move closer towards health issues. This should be limited as much as possible if not avoided at all costs. Try to eat foods that are more natural and require as little cooking as possible. When cooking food it’s always better to cook on lower temperatures for longer periods of time, this will maximize nutrient volume in the food and reduce the risk of burning which in itself also has health issues.