Nutritional requirements during training and racing tend to be a lot different. Determining what works for you tends to be a little bit of a personal journey as everyone has different preferences. However, even with personal nutritional nuances it is so important to aim to get the basics right. For this piece I am going to address some basic thoughts and principles on nutrition. In a later piece I will delve more into the recommendations for daily Macro intake of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Good nutritional habits are the cornerstone of creating a successful nutritional plan that works for you.
Importance of balancing your Macros:Striking a balance between carbohydrate, proteins and fats is the cornerstone for good nutrition and performance. When choosing your sources of carbohydrates make sure that they are nutrient dense. Instead of pastas, breads and carbs with high starch content you may replace these with quinoa, fruits and veg. High quality sources of protein and good fats are vital for a well-rounded balanced diet. Fats in particular have gotten a bad rap down through the years but consuming good quality fats from avocados, olive oil and sources rich in omega 3 are beneficial particularly, when combined with fish, meat and other lean proteins. Avoid processed fats refined from vegetables and trans fats.
Avoid processed foods:Highly processed foods should be avoided at all costs. They tend to be laden with sugar and salt. We as a society are becoming more mindful of what goes into making our foods and aware of the impact excess sugar consumption is having on our bodies.
Fuel your performance:Take some time to understand your fuelling requirements. Yes, weight plays an important role in performance, but making sure you are fuelled and ready for your next tough training session or race is also really important. If you think of it this way, every training session has a cumulative impact on your body as you dip into your well of energy sources. If you are not refuelling then every time you train/race you are delving more and more into your stores. At some point you may dip too far and this may result in injury or illness later in training.
Fad diets:There are many fad diets popping up all over the place suggesting that they guarantee improved performance. You hear a lot of chatter amongst athletes about how they are trying this new diet and the performances are sky rocketing. There are a number of possible reasons for the improved performance and one that I think is common is that they have been forced to clean up their diet. There is only one question you need to ask, is it sustainable over time?
Moderation:Everything in moderation. It is perfectly fine to treat yourself every now and again to that pizza or ice cream. Just don’t hit the “f#ck it switch” and have that one treat turn into a couple of days of binging. If it does, let it go and do not berate yourself and get down. Just pick up where you left off and get back onto the swing of things.
The above are just some considerations in developing some good nutritional habits and practices. Do not be scared to experiment with different recipes, there are plenty of them out there.