Many of you are getting ready for D-day, the event that you wouldn’t want to miss for anything in the world. You train hard, putting in time and effort, and thus you deserve to reap the rewards. Nutrition plays a huge part both in your success and your health. It’s known that you are what you eat and this is true not only during exercise but between bouts of physical activity. Follow these 3R’s to keep going without running low on fuel or hitting any roadblocks!
- Rethink everyday meals and snacks to make sure they offer their fair share of nutritive carbohydrates (such as couscous, whole-wheat pasta, multigrain bread, fresh fruits with edible peels) and quality protein (lean meats and poultry, low-fat dairy or soy products, fish and seafood, eggs and legumes). Although carb-loading can be useful prior to race day, carb-depletion is never a good idea, causing fatigue and muscle wasting. As for protein, endurance athletes (meat-lovers and vegetarians alike) need to take in adequate amounts of precious amino acids for tissue repair and immune function.
- Reduce the oxidative stress and acidic burden caused by exertion (without meaning to take away from the benefits of working out…). Exercise increases the need for certain vitamins (C and the B family), minerals (iron and zinc particularly) and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium) as these nutrients are lost in sweat and urine. Also, levels of acidity rise (corresponding to a drop in pH…) with effort, which can cause bone loss and other minor ills in the long run. Checking labels and ingredient lists is a smart way to load up on antioxidants and alkaline foods, either in edible or supplement form.
- Refrain from consuming too much alcohol (a predictable statement!), fat and fiber (this one may come as a surprise?!), as these can become a nuisance to athletes. The first substance will not only blur physical and mental alertness but also slow lipolysis (the use and burning of body fat for energy) and contributes empty calories. A second possible offender is fat, especially if predominant in the diet, which slows digestion and affects weight management. Finally, too much fiber (although important for digestion/ elimination) overstimulates the intestinal tract and causes bloating, cramping and diarrhea.