[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In early May myself and two other staff members attended a sports nutrition training presented by Paul Chamberlain on behalf of our biggest brand, Solgar. Paul is a very well respected marathon and ultra-long distance runner. Nutritional requirement and supplementation were covered for both endurance and power and strength sports. Even though these two areas of sports are distinctly different, a lot of the basic principles are the same.
From a nutritional perspective, the first focus should always be on functional nutrition. This means eating correctly to maintain overall health, supporting the immune system and preventing injury. The second focus should be on performance nutrition. This is where specific fuelling for the exercise is taken into consideration, plus recovery and hydration plan.
Eat enough calories
The first priority in any training plan should be to eat enough calories. The only exception to this is where weight loss is a goal. It makes sense, especially during endurance training that more calories will be burned, therefore additional calories must be consumed. This is vital to maintain a positive energy balance. Not getting enough calories can lead to poor quality training, poor recovery, fatigue, weight loss and suppressed immune system to mention a few. Additional calories from healthy fats or carbohydrates could include; oily fish, avocado, mixed nuts and seeds, coconut oil, quinoa, rice, brown basmati rice, sweet potatoes, whole fruit etc.
The next priority should be to eat enough protein. Whether endurance or strength training, it is important to consume enough protein. For sedentary to recreational exercisers the daily requirement is about 0.8grams of protein for every 1Kg body weight. For serious resistance training this can be increased to 1.2g/Kg and for serious endurance training this can be stepped up to 1.6g/Kg. Therefore, a 70Kg male carrying out serious endurance training would require up to 112 grams of protein per day (1.6 X 70 =112). Foods that contain rich sources of protein should be varied as much as possible, as to guarantee a wide range of amino acids are being made available to support building lean muscle mass and tissue. As muscle get broken down during exercise it is important to have enough protein available to rebuild muscle during the recovery phase. For example: Two handfuls of mixed nuts would contain about 12-15grams, two large eggs contain about 12grams, one chicken breast about 35grams, Lean beef around the size of palm of hand contains about 25grams. Food should be the first port of call for protein intake, however athletes often find it hard to achieve their requirements with food alone. In this case protein supplementation is often required. Supplementation should always be based on individual requirements. So please call in and have a chat if you feel you need some additional help.
The next area to focus on should be to eat enough carbohydrate. Even though there’s big debates about whether carbs or fats are the way to go for fuelling your activity, they both have advantages. In general, when we exercise both carbs and fats will be burned together. At low intensity and low heart rate exercise, we will burn a high percentage of fat in relation to carbs. Therefore, if you’re a long-distance runner or cyclist working at a low intensity, a high-fat low-carb diet may suit quite well. However, as we increase our exercise intensity and heart rate our cells will start to burn a higher percentage of carbs in relation to fats for fuel. Therefore, if you’re strength training or an endurance athlete wishing to go fast, more carb will be needed. Unlike fats our bodies can only store a small amount of glucose, which is provided from the carbs we eat. At high intensities, it is possible to deplete our bodies stored glucose within two hours. This is what long distance runners experience, known as “hitting the wall”. Therefore, it is often necessary to take carbs before, during or after harder workouts. A moderate level athlete (e.g. 1 hour per day) should consider consuming about 5-7grams/Kg body weight per day. Lots of products have been developed for quick carb fuelling during exercise: like gels, bars, drinks etc. which have been made easier to digest.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
A healthy immune system should also be a priority. Preventing illness will allow us to carry on with a regular training plan. Remember, if we can’t train due to illness, this can result in our level of fitness decreasing – if we don’t train we de-train! Athletes that train for long periods of time are constantly putting their bodies through physical stress. This stress causes us to produce the hormone Cortisol. In turn cortisol can then suppress our immune system, which leaves us more vunerable to colds, flues and respiratory issues. Another advantage of consuming carbohydrates is that carbs help to blunt this stress response both during and after exercise. The immune system should also be kept primed with plenty of dietary vitamin C and anti-oxidant foods like: green leafy vegetables, oranges, kiwi, blueberries, blackberries etc. Anti-oxidant foods will also help with the repair of cell damage caused by exercise. Also, feeding our good bacteria with a wide variety of fibrous foods will benefit our immune system. Probiotic supplementation would also be of real benefit here. Probiotics may also benefit athletes who suffer with digestive issues. L-Glutamine, a naturally occurring amino acid that we produce has been shown to reduce by up to 20% during prolonged periods of exercise. This amino acid also plays an important role in priming the immune system, therefore supplementation may also be worth considering. Not forgetting vitamin D as an important player in priming the immune system. Sunlight is going to be the best source of vitamin D, but if a lot of your training is indoors or during winter time a supplement may also be of benefit. There are some great all in one products aimed at reducing physically related stress and priming the immune system.
Listen to your body!! Do you feel tired or is your weight dropping due to insufficient calories? Are you fatigued due to poor hydration? Remember to up your water consumption during exercise, with the addition of electrolytes to replace lost salts through sweating. Are you fatigued from poor recovery time between sessions? Your body will need enough time to repair and rebuild after a training session. Are you getting enough sleep, this is when your body can best carry out repair work? Aim for 8-9 hours sleep per night. Magnesium is a great addition to any repair protocol, helping muscles to relax and assisting with sleep.
Finally, there are “Ergogenic Aids”. This is where supplements are used to enhance performance. Common examples would be on a competition day to use: caffeine, beetroot shots, carbohydrate gels etc. These may help to reduce lactic build up, improve fat burning, reduce perception of effort, increase work rate. Lastly, unless your training for the next Olympics, chill out and enjoy your sporting activities and don’t be afraid to call in and ask for advice.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]