It has become more and more apparent over recent years the huge role that diet and nutrition plays not only in performance and endurance but also in recovery of athletes or persons partaking in sport at any level and at any age. A healthy, well-nourished athlete is more likely to achieve their potential by training and recovering consistently on a day to day basis and to do this it is vital to master three key nutritional areas:
It is also vital for each individual to understand exactly how much they need to eat, so what their calorie requirements are as well as what protein and carbohydrate requirements they have. These requirements vary dramatically per individual depending on weight, type of training, gender, genetics and quality of the diet.
It is impossible to provide a set figure for energy and carbohydrate requirements but a good starting point is to calculate carbohydrate and protein requirements in terms of grams per kilogram of body weight. This can then be converted into calories. The amount of protein and carbohydrates are extremely individual and depend on body type and also metabolic response to carbs. It is important to spread energy consumption across the day. Many athletes adopt a “five small meals a day” approach to spread energy intake evenly and to also ensure efficient recovery post training sessions.
Carbs are a quick and efficient way to provide readily available energy for the body. However, it is important to understand good carbs and bad carbs. Carbs are ranked using the GI (glycaemic index). The GI score is the rate at which a food breaks down into sugar, how fast it is absorbed and how fast it raises blood glucose levels. Foods with the highest GI scores breakdown rapidly providing a quick energy burst which lasts only a short period of time. Eating too many of these foods can block the body from burning fat. These foods should be minimised and used only for fast energy replenishment or during exercise.
Foods with a low GI score break down slowly providing longer lasting energy and keep you fuller for longer. These tend also to be higher in fibre and nutrients too. Examples of foods with a low GI score are brown rice, vegetables, quinoa fresh fruits.
Please see the below GI Chart as a guideline.
Good pre-training/workout meals would be as follows:
Porridge topped with banana and milled flaxseeds.
Freshly made smoothie with added Udo’s oil/flaxseeds/pro greens powders.
You should always leave 3-4 hours after a meal before training and this should be mainly low GI foods with moderate amounts of protein. Food is only useful to the body when it is digested hence why it is important to allow sufficient time for the body to digest it. If you do require something close to your training session then opt for something small and light such as a piece of fruit, sachet of munchy seeds, small energy bar etc.
If you need to re-fuel during training then you require carbs that provide immediate energy. During exercise, sports (carb enriched) drinks provide the muscles with the fuel they require. The most appropriate forms are simple sugars such as glucose, fructose, maltose and galactose. Research has shown that athletes typically absorb 60-70g carbs per hour spread over the training sessions. Carb enriched energy drinks and gels taken with water provide the perfect solution as well as small amounts of specific foods.
The quicker you replenish your body with the right nutrients, the more benefits you will see from your training and the quicker your body will recover to train again.
Refuelling the body post exercise enables the following processes to take place:
Research has proven that the body is most receptive to carbs and protein within the first 45 minutes post exercise. I like to call this the “Re-fuel Window”. Post exercise snacks should contain carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to refuel, repair and re-vitalise. Win Naturally recommend the following post exercise products:
It is vital to include essential fats in the diet. These are required for immune function, cardiovascular function and also fat metabolism.
Including EFA’s will help to improve aerobic fitness by aiding oxygen delivery. Essential Fatty acids also have fantastic anti-inflammatory properties thus aiding tissue repair and recovery. Oily fish, seeds and good oils are all excellent sources of EFA’s.
Essential Fatty Acids provide your cells with the nutrition they need in order to function properly. Without them they do not operate as well as they could and this can affect overall health, muscle recovery, joint suppleness, energy, stamina and ultimately for the sports enthusiast, athletic performance.
Essential Fatty Acids can help raise energy levels in a number of ways:
Two independent research studies investigating the use of Udo's Choice Ultimate Oil Blend in Elite strength and endurance athletes found that it lead to improved energy levels and endurance.
We also measured cardiovascular risk factors. After 106 days, their resting blood glucose was slightly lower, triglycerides were significantly reduced, 'good' HDL cholesterol was significantly higher, 'bad' cholesterol was down significantly, and HDL/LDL ratio was better.
I hope that after reading this article it is clear that providing your body with the correct fuel will most certainly enable you to reach your optimum fitness levels and training goals. Win Naturally is proud to supply many of the Premiership football clubs, The England National teams, several Championship football clubs and many elite athletes with a wide range of sports, performance and endurance products. We are confident that we continue to lead the way in this field and stock only the finest and most effective sports nutrition products.