From working as a sports nutritionist for the past 7 years, working with marathon runners and triathletes here are my general nutrition guidelines for athletes and aspiring athletes. Get these few basic tips right and you can take your performance to a new level.
Always eat breakfast. I’m always amazed by how many athletes either skip this meal or just eat junk food (cereals loaded with sugar and salt, white bread and jam). Try to eat foods such as porridge, muesli (not coco pops), eggs or nut butter on toast or kippers.
Carbohydrate loading is not necessary for events under 90-100 minutes, however it is advised for events longer than this. So what does that mean? Any team sport, jog in the park or power sport such as martial arts, judo or javelin does not require eating lots of carbs for energy. But triathlons, marathons and half marathons do require carbs for energy. Based on this rule carbohydrate intake can be between 7-8g and 10-12g of CHO per kilo of body weight per day depending on the length of your sporting event.
You must also consume between 1-2g of healthy lean protein per kilo of body weight per day. Protein is not bad for you bones or your kidneys, it doesn’t take a week to digest (yes I have been questioned on this by confused athletes) and it will actually aid your performance and recovery.
Fat is not bad for you, it does not make you fat (unless you eat lots of processed junk food fats such as doughnuts, fish and chips and other deep fried foods) and some fats are essential – you have to eat them. Fats like fish, oils, nuts, seeds, avocado, butter and eggs are healthy.
A diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals is essential. For optimal healthy and recovery. This means eating lots of VEGETABLES. No one eats enough vegetables – that’s a fact! Aim to at a variety of colours – reds, greens, yellows, brown, white / tans and purple / blues. – all containing a host of different nutrients.
Aim to drink more water then sports drinks. Replace water and electrolytes (1.5L per kg of BW lost) on a daily basis and after training and sports. You only really needs sports drink during a sporting event to top up your blood glucose levels.
This article was a guest post by Steve Hines who is a nutritionist in Wandsworth UK.