While some of us who train know what to eat when it comes to nutrition, it can be as important to eat the right things at the right times, (before, during and after training), especially if you are an athlete.
For those running the 10k this weekend, your nutrition will be important, but worrying about carb loading or what to eat and when, isn’t as important as you may think it is.
If you are a healthy and you eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly, you probably do not need to worry about workout nutrition.
Workout nutrition, or planning your meals before, during and straight after your training, isn’t a magic pill.
Your entire diet needs to be right for workout nutrition to be effective.
By Emmet Rushe
If you haven’t yet got a grasp on your general diet, concentrate on getting that right first and the look at workout nutrition.
Recommendations will differ depending on the type of sport that you play and your own specific goals.
The recommendations below will be middle of the road and can easily be adjusted and will suit anyone doing the NW 10k this Sunday.
BEFORE THE RACE
What you eat before can make a big difference to your performance and recovery.
In the 2-3 hours before your workout, you’ll want to eat something that helps you to sustain energy, boost performance, hydrate, and speed recovery.
You would want to have a balanced meal with protein, carbs, some healthy fats and vegetables in it.
In a meal this can be potatoes with chicken and veg and any oil used for cooking will be your fat, or if you steam or grill your meat, you can add a knob of butter to your potatoes and veg.
It could be a chicken, lettuce and tomato sandwich on wholemeal bread with some light mayo as the dressing.
For people who do not like eating before training, you can use a smoothie around 60 mins before training.
As the smoothie is liquid, it will enter the system quicker, so you can have it closer to the event.
The smoothie will follow the same guidelines as above and would look like this;
1 scoop protein powder
1 fist of veggies (spinach works great in smoothies)
1-2 cupped handfuls of carbs (mixed berries or a banana work great)
1 thumb of fats (like mixed nuts or flax seeds)
A low-calorie beverage like water or unsweetened almond or coconut milk.
DURING THE RACE
Intra-workout Nutrition is really only necessary for some people:
Athletes doing long intense training bouts, people doing multiple daily training sessions, and/or people trying to gain significant amounts of muscle mass.
If this isn’t you, you do not need intra workout nutrition.
For those of you who are doing the 10k, you should be able to get through it with just water.
If you sweat a lot during training and exercise and you are planning a fast run on Sunday, you could have some electrolytes in your water to help replace the salts you will lose from sweating.
If you don’t like eating anything close to the race and it will be over 3+ hours from your last meal, you could have a Sports drinks 30 mins before the race so you will get some carbs half way through your run and you could also get one with added electrolytes for hydrating and helping with recovery.
The myth used to be that if you didn’t get nutrition into you 30 mins after training, then the session was practically wasted.
This has been proven to be a myth.
While you don’t have to rush in the door and straight to the fridge the minute you finish at the race, you still should be having something within 2 hours to speed up recovery.
But this is context dependent; what you ate before your workout influences things.
If your pre-training meal was a small one or you ate it several hours before training, then it’s probably more important for you to get that post-workout meal or smoothie into your system pretty quickly; usually within an hour of training.
But if you ate a normal sized mixed meal a couple of hours before training (or a small smoothie closer to training), then you have a full one to two hours after training to eat your post-workout meal or smoothie.
The Post Workout meal would be structured the same for men and women as the Pre-workout meal discussed earlier.
This guide touches on the basics of workout nutrition.
It’s a simple common-sense approach that will fit in nicely for the majority of those who are running the race.
A simple tip for running the race for those who want to try and complete it without stopping, try not to get out of breath.
You should always be able to hold a short conversation with the person beside you and that should set a good pace for your fitness level.
All the best to everyone who will be taking part and I’ll see you all there.
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