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Fuel for the Journey

Written by Bodyneed on May 27th, 2015.      0 comments

Mars bar or protein bar? Barley Sugar or boiled egg?? Carbs are good, carbs are bad…?!!
When it comes to knowing what and how to eat, we are inundated by information. It can be a minefield to navigate and it’s really important to get this right. The type of nutrition you get can either support or harm your training efforts, and that’s where a sports nutritionist can come in. As everyone is different, and no one size fits all, a sports nutritionist is able to tailor their recommendations and suggestions to you.
Before you see a nutritionist, here’s our take on the where-to’s and why’s of good sports nutrition.
First, let’s differentiate between sports nutrition and general nutrition.

Sport nutrition
Sports nutrition is concerned with how your nutrition relates to your athletic performance. It looks at your food intake and hydration during training, pre-race, in-race and post-race, It’s all about getting the right balance of food and hydration to keep you performing at your best. This can become quite complex and it’s definitly an area where it’s well worth getting professional help! Sports nutrition can also cover weight management as many athletes need to maintain an optimum weight to perform – this can be either retaining weight or losing weight.
At higher levels, it takes a fine balance of carbs, protein, fat and liquids eaten at certain times and under certain circumstances to produce the absolute best athletic performance.

General Nutrition
General nutrition can help you with issues as far-ranging as weight management to polycystic ovaries to diabetes – in fact, it’s no secret that what we eat and drink is one of the largest factors when it comes to maintaining great health. By now, we should all know there are strong connections between what we eat and our general health and wellbeing.
Don’t believe the hype! If there was ever one tip worth knowing when it comes eating and drinking it would be this. News articles of ‘latest research’ can be a very biased, watered-down version of actual research. The research can be based on a  very narrow population and reworked to make it ‘sellable’ to the public.
There never has been, and never will be, one miracle food that can fix everything – we need variety in our diets to get the right nutritional balance and to keep us mentally healthy.
Let’s face it, living off something like cabbage 24/7 is enough to turn anyone crazy!

Our top ten nutrition tips to get your training started on the right track
1.         Eat a good breakfast and keep away from the sugar!
Eggs on toast, avocado and tomato, porridge and banana; make sure you eat breakfast everyday – no speeding through your morning routine and grabbing a muffin instead. The sugar rush off the muffin will only last an hour or so and the crash will leave you craving sugar all day!
2.         Is coffee good or bad?
Again it’s all about moderation. 1- 2 cups per day = OK; 10 cups = maybe not so good for you!
Coffee can actually be a great boost to your training – experiment with having a coffee pre-run (with enough time to digest).

3.         Add more good protein to your day
Think about what you have for lunch and make sure it’s a balanced meal – avoid bought sandwiches that are heavy on the bread and low on actual filling (as in #1 you can easily find yourself getting hungry again quickly).

4.         Never let yourself get hungry
Keep good snacks on hand to fill the day – if you get hungry you are more likely to grab a convenient sweet treat or low nutrient sandwich or pie. Good snacks = boiled eggs, almonds, nuts, dates, carrots and hummus, celery and peanut butter.

5.         Even if you don’t need to lose weight the above tips are for you
It’s about building the right type of energy so you can train consistently and get the most out of your body!
6.         Food before training??
Here is a quick guide – training for less than an hour? Then no need to eat. Training for over an hour? Then yes; experiment with different breakfasts – porridge and sugar is a goody!

7.         At the end of a BIG training session (eg. over an hour of exercise) eat high GI food
This can be sweet food and is the most effective time to do so. Barley sugars, banana, chocolate, muffin – now is your time – yes really, for one hour after a BIG session you need to eat sugar to replace the glycogen you have depleted and it’s not a ‘bad’ thing to do!

8.         How much water do I need?
A good rule of thumb is if you’re training for less than an hour (and it’s not too hot) you won’t need to carry water. Make sure you’re staying well hydrated during the rest of the day as well.

9.         Sports drinks?
Beware of sports drinks – you DO NOT need them in normal training sessions – you will not be burning enough calories to warrant a sugary concoction! They are helpful when you’re training at intensity for over an hour or in extreme conditions. Sports drinks replace depleted electrolytes (minerals and salts) that you sweat out when training and are easier for your body to absorb than plain water.

10.       Gels or goos are pure sugar energy and are just what your muscles need
Again once you get over that magic hour of training! While the bought gels are convenient, you can use any sugary treat to do the same job – it’s just about glucose getting to your muscles as quickly as possible.

Should I see a nutritionist?
If you notice any of these symptoms you may be in need of some nutrition help… Low energy, lack of motivation, slow recovery from training, sore muscles for days after training.
Getting nutrition right can be complicated as there are as many variables as there are people. The best thing you can do is seek a professional’s help to figure out what works best for you.

Nutrition info courtesy of Tracey Wheeler, BHSc (Comp Med) Dip.Nat (Hons)
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Topics: Training , Wellbeing


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