So what is Sports Nutrition all about? I remember the days of long ago when we would all go out for a big spaghetti dinner the night before a road race. Did it help us? Probably not. Did we think it helped us? Absolutely. Was it tasty? You betcha! But what is more important is how we eat throughout the training period in order to make the most of each workout. Below are some suggestions:
While carbs are important to runners, a balanced diet is even more so. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables are a huge benefit since many of them are not only packed with nutrients, but also water.
- 50-60 percent of calories from carbohydrates (grains, pasta, bread)
- 10-20 percent of calories from fat sources (oils, avocados, nuts)
- 20 percent of calories from protein (fish, meat, chicken, beans)
Within an hour of finishing your run, refuel with a snack – sticking to a ‘4:1’ carbs to protein ratio (whole grain toast with peanut butter, or fruit with yogurt, or best yet Chocolate milk!).
During a competition, bring some light, healthy snacks (fruit, dry cereal, energy bars or granola) to keep your energy and blood sugar up. Be careful not to eat too close to your next race – you need time to digest the food first. Refuel with another healthy snack within the “glycogen recovery window” of 10 to 15 minutes after your swim. This is when your body really needs nutrients in order to repair muscles and replace glycogen.
Cyclists who train for 2-3 hours each day need about 3.5 to 4.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight per day. Eat a light, high-carb meal (toast with peanut butter, yogurt, a banana, whole wheat cereal) 1-2 hours before your bike ride.