SPORTS NUTRITION ADVICE
Nutrition and hydration - the facts
Have you considered your nutrition and hydration strategy? Given the importance of sports nutrition to your training, it's essential that you plan and organise your nutritional strategy as this is fundamental and key to your success. No matter how hard you train, if the wrong fuel is entering your body you're not going to train and compete optimally. Your nutritional plan is often called the “Fourth Element” of triathlon which points to the importance it carries in your success.
Nutrition – you only get out what you put in
Having a diet that's high in carbohydrate is essential as a means of providing your muscles with the energy needed to run, swim or cycle and also recover quickly afterwards. The body’s preferred source of energy is carbohydrates and this is stored in your muscles and liver as a fuel called ‘glycogen’. The body’s glycogen stores are limited so you need to eat plenty of carbohydrates to keep these stores topped up. Good sources of carbohydrates are pasta, rice, bread, cereals and potatoes.
A good balanced diet with plenty of variety, containing a large percentage of fruit and vegetables will provide the essential minerals and vitamins needed to maintain health and vitality.
· Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of fuel for performance.
· Carbohydrates are stored in the body as glycogen but only in limited quantities enough for just 1½ to 2 hours running.
· Fatigue occurs when glycogen stores are depleted resulting in a significant reduction in running/cycling/swimming speed………(the ‘bonk’)
· Taking on carbohydrates before and during prolonged performance has been shown to reduce the negative impact of glycogen depletion on performance.*
· In a meta-analysis of clinical work it was shown that consuming between 0.5 and 1.0 grams of carbohydrate per Kg of body weight an hour during exercise will improve performance and recovery significantly.
Give your body the fuel it needs
Hydration is also key to performance. A proper hydration plan before, during and after sport is required to maintain fluid levels. Studies have shown people are often dehydrated before they start exercise while proper re-hydration after any sustained exercise enhances the recovery process.
You can check your hydration status throughout the day by checking the colour of your urine:
Stay well hydrated by drinking a minimum of 2 litres of fluid per day.
An excellent way to ensure a high fluid intake is to carry a water bottle around with you at home or work to promote regular drinking.
Remember you'll need to drink more in hot and humid conditions, and also in air conditioned environments.
A 2% reduction in body weight through sweat can significantly decrease performance.
Marathon runners have been reported to lose up to 8% of their body weight in warm conditions.
Fluid lost through sweat contains key electrolytes such as sodium and potassium which must be replaced.
Sports drinks such as High5 Isotonic, SIS Go, High5 4:1, Torq have been shown to reduce the negative impact of dehydration on prolonged performance.
* Sport Sciences 2004; 22