Hello All! I hope everyone is having a great summer! I know it is probably going by too quick, but hopefully you have enjoyed some R&R and made some good memories. This month I am going to talk about Sports Nutrition since inevitably during the summer months training and competing efforts are ramped up.
I love summer for its long days and the chance to get out early for a bike ride or run before it gets too hot. I also love summer for all its glorious bounty of veggies and fruits and the preferred evening cooking method of grilling. It’s wonderful to be able to go to a farmers market and get all your “just-picked” produce to re-fuel your physical efforts.
There is so much to being properly fueled for sports so let’s dive in to these topics:
- fuel yourself for a high intensity workout or competition.
- recover better with the right foods and nutrients.
- keep hydrated with the help of foods.
- what to ingredients to stay away from for proper GI balance and comfort.
- maintain weight control while training.
Fuel Yourself properly for a Great Workout or Race:
So in this topic I am talking about intense effort workout or competition day workouts. In that case proper fueling begins 36-48 hours before your workout. 36-48 hrs. before your big event start with 200+ extra calories a day from carbohydrates. An example is to have a whole sweet potato instead of a half with a meal and include a serving of quinoa in your salad (trust me it’s delicious). I would use the range of 200-400 kcal of carbs depending on if you are a man vs woman and how long the effort is going to be.
Second, increase your electrolytes stores. You can add about 1/2 tsp of high quality sea salt to one of your glasses of water each day. This is a good thing to do anyway if you are sweating a lot from training efforts. Add some magnesium/calcium powder in each day, about tsp -1 tbsp based on size https://www.amazon.com/Natural-Calm-Plus-Calcium-Vitality/dp/B0019QT66I/ref=sr_1_4_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1533030376&sr=8-4&keywords=calcium+magnesium+calm&dpID=41foFa3a%252BcL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch
Third, incorporate more colorful high antioxidant veggies and fruits which help repair the breakdown of muscle and promote recovery. Kale, Beets, Red Cabbage, Tomatoes, Berries, Spinach, Watermelon are some to name a few. Refer back to the article I wrote in June with the ORAC values https://wordpress.com/post/nourishyh.wordpress.com/211.
Lastly, don’t eat anything new the day before or morning of your competition. Don’t use race day morning to try a new breakfast! Stick to what you know works. As well don’t overdo fiber the day before for less bathroom breaks the day of your big event. And drink plenty of water the day before to where you are very hydrated, (going to the bathroom every two hours).
Recover Faster Prior with the Right Foods and Nutrients:
Congrats! You worked so hard now you need to re-fuel and repair. So my question to you is why do races provide foods such as bagels, pizza, pancakes and pasta? All I can come up with is as we have exhausted our glycogen stores so we need to replenish them. But this is where I tend to differ in the typical “post race foods”. I believe that amino acids are more beneficial than low quality carbohydrates that the body has a hard time digesting. I immediately look to replenish electrolytes and minerals so I would do a coconut water, some watermelon, broth or pickle juice, (weird right?) and a pinch or good quality sea salt in any of the above liquids. I like having a banana for potassium and to help prevent cramping and top that with some natural nut butter (no corn syrup).
Find some foods that you like with ample protein in them within the 30-60 minute window after your effort. Your body will repair the muscle breakdown with these crucial amino acids. When you get home drink a cup of tart cherry juice which is amazing to reduce pain and inflammation. Continue to re-hydrate and eat high quality, balanced foods for the meals over the next 24-36 hours. Take a serving of the magnesium supplement I mentioned prior before bed.
Keep Hydrated with the Help of Food:
There are a number of food that increase your hydration levels because of their water content. These foods are great to incorporate into your days when training levels are increased; you are training in warm conditions and or your recovering from sustained efforts. My top hydration foods are: Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Grapefruit, Oranges, Cucumber, Zucchini, Lettuces, Celery, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Broths, (bone broth a top nutrient dense food) Yogurt and Cottage Cheese.
Still continue to stay on top of your water and electrolytes, but add these in for their hydration boost, fiber and antioxidant health benefits.
What Ingredients to Stay Away from for Proper GI Balance and Comfort:
Oh the dreaded GI issues….no fun on competition day or on training days. Sometimes its just nerves and your body’s way of getting rid of any waste products before you shut down your GI system during a hard effort. Its like your mind knows to tell your body “get everything out now before you make me run or ride XXX miles!” I know those long lines in the port-o-poties aren’t the place most people want to be in!
So with that being said what can we do to limit aggravating foods before these intense efforts? Fiber keeps us regular, fiber pulls toxins and excess hormones out of our system and it is critical for bowel function. All that is great, but I wouldn’t go eating extra servings of beans and broccoli the day before your hard effort! Save them for the foods to enjoy during normal day-to-day training.
Stay away from excess cheese and gluten or avoid them completely. Many athletes have given up these food groups because they have seen better training, recovery and a more steady GI system. Dairy and gluten can cause inflammation and leaky gut/IBS if you have allergies, an already sensitive system, or an exercise-induced sensitive system. This article explains the need for good probiotic when the Gut becomes disturbed from intense training https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27924137
Go easy on caffeine, alcohol and sweets. It’s tempting to relax with a drink, glass of beer or wine the night before you race, but keep it to a minimum. Not only are these beverages dehydrating, they are also known to aggravate the lining of your stomach. Eliminate caffeine or keep it to one cup the day of the competition or intense effort. Caffeine also increases your cortisol levels which high intensity training does as well. Increased cortisol levels add to inflammation, weight gain and mood instability. If you do drink caffeine try to drink two cups of water for each cup of caffeine consumed.
Maintain Weight Control While Training:
A great reference book for this subject is Racing Weight: 6-step plan for endurance athletes by Matt Fitzgerald https://www.amazon.com/Racing-Weight-Lean-Peak-Performance/dp/1934030996 . I have heard many times over the years people expressing frustration over weight grain while spending more time exercising and increased training efforts. So why and how does this occur? It’s not a short and or straight answer but we can look at a few variables and try to eliminate them.
- Our modern lifestyle with sitting all day, then eating mindlessly often late at night completely counteracts the benefits of burning calories while training.
- Food quality is not adequate enough. Eating processed food, highly refined foods and hydrogenated oils does not give the body the nutrition it needs. The body doesn’t know how to efficiently burn these as fuel so it sticks around…literally. Eat nutrient dense foods, not junk foods or nutrient poor foods. Increase healthy fats such as avocado and coconut, add good carbs to your diet like quinoa and sweet potatoes, eat grass-fed, wild, free-range and organic protein sources for amino acid/protein needs and as many servings or veggies your GI system can handle.
- You don’t know how to manage your new energy requirements and your hunger cues. Yes you will need more energy from food, and yes you will become hungrier at first but don’t run blindly. If you eat like I just described your body will be satisfied and your hunger will come less often and be not triggered by low blood sugar or poor diet issues. Keep these three things in mind when eating:
- Follow the 80/20 rule. Only eat to 80% full.
- Take your time eating and chew every bite. Take 20 minutes to eat your meal. Your stomach will then have the time to send your mind signals that it is satiated.
- Keep regular meal and snack times. Don’t allow yourself to have low blood sugar or get so hungry that you have to devour a whole bag of chips. If you eat balanced meals and snacks at regular times your body will run like the machine it is capable of.
- Keep sugar to a minimum. Eating sugar promotes a taste for sugar, thus you will want more sugar! Sugar promotes inflammation and increase weight gain. If you have not already remove soft drinks out of your life, (both diet and regular), which have no health promoting benefits.
Ok gang, that’s my two-cents for making the most of all your hard work and dedication to your fitness and health! Continue to move your body every day and eat real food to fuel your efforts!
I hope you all have a wonderful August. I have opened Maryville Yoga Shala and its going great! Check out our Facebook page @maryvilleshala Instagram page @MaryvilleYogaShala and our website at www.maryvilleyogashala.com I hope to see you at the studio one day!
“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” translated to mean “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”
Have a great month friends and enjoy your health!