Sports nutrition can quickly become very complicated so its important to focus on specific areas around your training and racing. Use your base diet as a foundation to build an effective plan on to get the most out of your training and race day performances. Here are some tips to get you started:
Begin your session hydrated. Start everyday with a large glass of water and be sure to keep the fluids coming consistently up to your session or race. For endurance events specifically focus on hydration in the 48 hours pre event and aim for 200-500ml of sports drink in the 1 hour pre race, this will provide last minute hydration, electrolytes and carbohydrates to fuel the muscles.
Eat Early. Ideally you want to eat a substantial meal 2-3 hours (at least) before hard trainings or race time. There are no concrete rules about what this meal needs to have in it, the trick is to work out what works for you (preferably before race day). Definitely include lots of Carbohydrate (toast, cereal etc) and you may benefit from easing off the fibre content of foods (fruit, bran etc).
Increase your blood flow. There is solid science to show Nitric Oxide improves blood flow and reduces the amount of oxygen working muscles require. The scientific research has shown that this combination could improve power output and endurance, which can be of benefit during exercise by helping you increase intensity or duration.
Snack 30 minutes out. Have a small snack approximately 30 minutes before the start of your session to help top up blood glucose levels ready so when the start gun sounds you are sparing your reserves (glycogen).
Know your hourly carbohydrate aim. Now this is can get tricky depending on a lot of factors including size, gender, duration of event, intensity and even environmental conditions. Do some research or ideally invest in a professional nutrition plan to know where you need to be aiming both in training over 1.5 hours or racing upwards of the 1 hour mark. Carbohydrate equals muscle fuel so getting your intake correct can be the difference between a personal best and hitting the wall.
Hydrate. By the time your thirsty you are already well on the road to dehydration which is a major cause of fatigue. so pre-empt the situation by drinking small amounts of fluid frequently, starting 10-15 minutes into your session. Water is fine for durations under 1 hour, Generally, aim for 500-750ml of fluid per hour or upwards of this if exercising in hot and humid conditions.
Refuel within 30 minutes. This is the golden window for muscles to uptake and replenish carbohydrate stores. Aim for 1g of Carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight and to have a main meal within 2 hours to continue fuelling the recovery response.
Include up to 25g protein on your post exercise snack or meal. To help repair or recover and to make new muscle proteins which lead to “training adaptations”, meaning gaining benefits from each session. As a bonus protein also helps satisfy hunger (to stop you raiding the fridge post session). Pure Whey Protein Concentrate comes in two delicious flavours; Organic Cacao or Organic Vanilla Bean with Cinnamon.
Replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat. One of the best ways to learn how much fluid is required to do this is to weigh your self before and after your session and consume 150% (L of fluid) of the weight (kg’s) lost. So a 1kg weight loss requires 1.5L of fluid. Include sodium in your chosen fluid to help retain hydration in the body and lower the number of toilet stops you need.
Immune support. Good recovery is vital to supporting your immune function and to combat “pressure” on the immune system caused by Exercise.
Want specific nutrition for your body and your goals?
Pure Co founder and Sports and Exercise Nutritionist Marewa Kraak is available for personalised Nutrition Consultations, available nationwide by Skype. Whether you want help with your daily lifestyle nutrition, or assistance on a specific race day nutrition plan, a one-on-one 45 minute consultation and written nutrition plan can help you on your way.