Whether your exercising for weight lose, a healthier lifestyle or for sport, its important the body is fueled with the right foods. Having a good nutritional plan set in place will have you on track to achieving your goals. Your muscles can take a real beating during exercise, so its very important you provide them with a good mixture of food sources and supplements which will not only help you get though the day but help you find the ENERGY to exercise.
A number of years ago, a friend suggested I read Eat Right 4 Your Type, some of you have probably heard of the book. An amazing read on the 4 different blood types and the foods which are right for your type. Off the bat it just made so much sense…it helped change the way I ate and lifted my racing performance to another level. Today I follow it 90% of the time…on occasions I eat foods that are not on the beneficial or neutral list but hey that’s okay, we’re allowed our treats from time to time. It’s a great book for those wanting to lose weight, keep healthy, take their sport to another level or who have allergies. There’s 1 diet plan for each of the blood types. I highly recommend it, if your not sure what foods you should be eating this is a great guide.
How Many Calories Do I need Per Day
For ENDURANCE ATHLETES; multisporters, adventure racers, triathletes, marathon runners etc…research suggests these athletes need between 3000 to 4000 calories per day. This should include 400 to 800 grams of carbohydrate, 100 to 120 grams of protein and 70 to 100 grams of fat. This will also depend on the intensity and duration of the training session. Leading up to big events like a Coast to Coast or an Ironman, a high-carbohydrate diet eaten for two to three days before the event will help fill the glycogen levels in the muscles. Athletes will benefit if their carbohydrate intake for those days is 70 percent of the calories eaten…commonly known as carbo-loading, this works really well if done correctly. A high carbohydrate meal before a long training session is of benefit too.
For WEIGHT LOSE the recommended safe minimum amount is 1200 calories per day for a woman and 1800 for men. For those wanting to maintain current body weights, women require 1600 to 2400 calories daily, while many men need 2000 to 3000 calories a day.
Using this information and the help of Eat Right 4 Your Type, I was able to design a nutritional plan that worked for me.
Hydration for Endurance Athletes
If exercising intensely for more than three or four hours, you will need to be aware of your hydration needs and drink water before, during and after exercising. Get into the habit of weighing yourself before and after your long training sessions, this will determine your hydration needs, and how different weather and training conditions may affect you. This will give you an idea of how much you need to drink during your regular sessions. Rehydrate by drinking 15 ounces of water for every pound you lost during a workout. Another way to monitor this is your urine output and color. A large amount of light- colored, diluted urine means your well hydrated. A small amount of dark colored urine means your dehydrated and need to drink more water.
The following will help you stay on top of your fluid needs:
Before exercise: Drink 2-3 cups of water 2 hours prior to your training session. During exercise: Drink 1 cup every 15 minutes. After exercise: Drink 2-3 cups of water for each pound lost at the end of the session.
You will also need to increase your intake of electrolytes (sodium, potassium and calcium). A marathon runner, for example, may want to consume more sodium in the week before the race or consume an electrolytes sports drink. They’ve worked really well for me in the past…I highly recommend them especially if you have problems with cramp.
Studies have shown that ultra-endurance athletes can lose 1-2 grams of salt per liter of sweat. If you consider that athletes may lose up to a liter (or more) of sweat each hour, you can see that over a long distance event (12 hour race), it is not unimaginable that an athlete could sweat out a huge amount of sodium. Replacing this loss during the event is critical to performance and safety.
Use a sodium containing sports drink during long distance, high intensity events or training sessions. Eat salty foods before and during training or racing.
Remember its important to understand your fluid needs, weigh yourself before and after training and drink enough sodium based sports drinks to offset any fluid lose.
Increase your salt intake several days prior to competing or those longer training days. Avoid the use of aspin, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents as they may increase the rise of hyponatremia. Many athletes take these without knowing of their detrimental effect on performance.
Foods that provide additional sodium are chicken noodle soup, a dill pickle, goats cheese and pretzels.
How Much Should I Eat During Endurance Exercise?
This depends on your level of fitness, your intensity and body size. Research suggests 60 grams (250 calories) of carbohydrate per hour. I’ve applied this and find it gives me exactly what I need, I’m about 70kgs. To learn what foods and drinks are best for you, experiment with various foods and combinations during your workouts. Try a variety of drinks, snacks, bars and gels. Vary the timing of your food intake and over time you will be able to determine what’s right for you.
After training or racing the body needs:
50 – 100 grams of carbohydrate
10 – 20 grams of protein.
As soon as you finish have a Protein/Carbohydrate drink, (Best within 15 minutes). I suggest mixing this up in a drink bottle and taking it with you if training or racing away from home. I’ve found Whey Protein Powder to be the best for recovery. Within 1 hour, also have some antioxidant foods, plus a good mixture of after food sources. Keep drinking water too!
2 sandwiches (4 slices of gluten free bread – can be toasted or 6 slices of ryvita crispbread) with tuna, salmon or sardines.
Piece of fruit – kiwi fruit etc.
1 can of cream rice (easier if away from home)
Piece of fruit – kiwi fruit etc.
Found in fruit and vegetables. Athletes and active people create free radicals when they exercise, these can be harmful to our health if they are not eradicated. Antioxidants act like fire extinguishers, stopping rogue molecules called free radicals from damaging cells. These fire extinguishers put out little fires all over the body, protecting you from age related diseases, including cataracts, heart diseases and cancer. They also help protect your muscles from soreness after a tough workout. So eat plenty of fruit and vege!
Unfortunately you can’t always get the right amount of vitamins and nutrients from your food. Over the years I’ve experimented with different types of supplements and found a Iron, Magnesium and vitamin B supplement works well for me.
I hope this was of help…all the best!