When you’re training for your next athletic goal, having the right fuel can go a long way to ensuring success, and your optimal nutritional status can be easily achieved by following these easy steps. – BY CHRISTINE PETERS, REGISTERED DIETICIAN
1. Focus on lowering your body fat percentage, instead of losing weight.
This will improve your power to weight ratio when climbing hills, but note that this should not be achieved by drastically reducing your energy intake, as this may negatively affect your training and recovery, and ultimately your performance on race day. Meeting daily protein requirements helps improve body composition, while trying to lose body fat and gain muscle mass during training.
2. Keep a daily fluid, food and symptom diary.
Logging your intake will help you get to grips with when, what and how much you are consuming, as well as how it affects your performance. This makes it easier to identify the necessary dietary changes that need to be made in order to improve. This makes it easier to identify the necessary dietary changes that need to be made in order to improve performance.
3. Establish a routine.
Meal regularity is extremely important, as missing meals can result in over-indulgence at the next meal, or choosing convenience meals and snacks which are generally high in fat and sugar, and low in nutritional value. Keep that balance going!
4. Keep an eye on your alcohol intake.
Alcohol is loaded with empty calories and can promote fat storage, and can negatively affect motor skills, strength and performance. So, switch to a light beer or spritzer (white wine and soda), or a single tot of spirits with a low-calorie mixer, e.g. a diet cold drink or soda water. (e.g. a diet cold drink, water or soda water). Note that drinking light beers or single tots of spirits does not mean that you can drink more!
5. Enjoy a variety of foods.
There is no single magic food. Each food offers its own specific nutrients and eating a variety of foods helps ensure a well-rounded nutritional intake. Don’t cut out any foods just because it’s the latest fad to do so.
6. Focus on natural foods.
Don’t get manipulated by clever marketing that you need special sports supplements and aids in order to perform optimally. Remember, your diet is your biggest insurance for health and performance, and natural food has been proven to have as good an affect on performance as ergogenic aids, if not better. For example, try the humble raisin instead of a sport’s chew, as studies have found that raisins perform just as well as a carb supplement. Recent studies found that raisins perform just as well as a carb supplement, including zero gastrointestinal side-effects for endurance sport.
The Bottom Line…
The overall thing you have to keep in mind is to keep it natural and balanced: Fruit, veggies (and leave those peels on!), whole grains and lean meats. Eat more seeds and nuts as a snack alternative, and remember to keep hydrated throughout the day. These simple rules will make you feel energised and will help improve your running performance. These simple rules will make you feel energised and will help your performance in training and chasing that PB!
While good old water is most runners’ tried and trusted go-to, a sports drink with added electrolytes will rehydrate you while also adding a combination of sodium and carbohydrates, which in turn also help more water to be absorbed, but some sports drinks are packed with concentrate and sugar, so try these healthy and effective alternatives:
• Coconut water contains essential electrolytes, punching more potassium than a banana! There is no added sugar or fat, and it’s one of the healthiest options to replenish lost nutrients. It contains easily digestible carbs from natural sugars, which makes it a great alternative to sports drinks.
• Green tea gives you a natural caffeine kick, while the antioxidants increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel, which improves muscle endurance. For endurance junkies, drinking green tea can help your blood-flow, because flavonoids relax blood vessels, so blood can flow more easily.
• ‘Wild’ water: Choose sparkling water with soaked strawberries and mint, or still water with ice, lime and apple slices. These drinks provide something different with the bubble, kick and flavour, but won’t overpower with sweetness, so you will cut calories.