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    Blog — Nutrition

    Eat to win: secrets of success

    What does it take to fuel your engine like a champion? If you’d like get the 'real deal' on nurturing success and live a day in an athlete’s shoes (and food pantry), read on… Here’s a sneak peak at some feeding rituals that allow fellow sport enthusiasts to savour the benefits of an athletic lifestyle and sound nutrition!

    • When asked about the must-haves in the fridge and lunch box, our panel of interviewees responded (in order of importance) : greek yogurt, oatmeal and bagels, bananas and dried mangoes, veggies and rice crackers with hummus and tofu dip, fish, peanut butter and maple syrup, caffeine (!), dark chocolate and fruit chews (!!). What are your favorite items at the grocery store?

    • In sharing advice with regards to eating/exercise, the group suggested: not being fearful of eating to give the body what it needs to excel, breaking down barriers and going beyond the limits we may set for ourselves (nothing is impossible…) and considering consulting a professional dietitian get tips to support training and everyday life. Are you optimizing your chances for success?

    • As for tracking down credible and user-friendly information on sports nutrition, this select sample of clients recommended: going straight to the source and finding a dietitian to team up with, websites (www.active.com, www.ironman.com), magazines (Triathlon Magazine Canada), amongst other sources. What are your favorites?
    • In order to give in to their guilty pleasures without giving up and keeping hunger under control, these gurus tend to: make sure not to skip meals nor snacks and keep to a tight routine, treat themselves only after events (as a reward!), have nutritious foods at arm’s reach, consume foods in moderation, maintain adequate hydration… Readers: do you have any tips to share?

    • Finally, with regards to sports supplements, the athletes gave 5 stars to the following products : bars (Clif, PowerBar and Kronobar were the favorites), protein powder (Vega came in first), chews (Clif and Power Bar were worthy of their attention), gels (Honey Stinger was the first choice) and brews (such as First Endurance EFS). Check out the wide selection of sports nutrition products on athleti.ca!

    Let yourself get carried away in the health-nut craze: it’s worth a taste! You’ll feel better and optimize your performance. Every bit and each bite matters, your body should be treated as a temple. Eating sensibly is contagious, spread the word!!! 

    *Special thanks to Bruno Langevin, Marc Bonds and Jimmy Gosselin for their insight, their time and trust as well as their inspiring stories.


    Sports drinks… worth a try?

    Many athletes swear by the added value of sports drinks, to supplement water intake during training. These liquid brews fuel physical effort and help maintain blood sugar and glycogen stores during exercise, and can provide precious calories and key nutrients before and after an intense workout. There are more than a few choices of sports drinks on the market, all trying to grab your attention and their place on your fitness grocery list. Here are the essential features you should look for in order to ensure that the sports drinks you buy are useful, nutritious and adapted to your endurance needs :  

    • The beverage in question should provide at least ½ litre (500 millilitres or 2 cups) of water for the suggested serving size to satisfy your thirst and ensure optimal hydration. 
    • If you are expecting your drink to provide an energy boost, it should contain  carbohydrates in  concentrations  of 4 to 8%, which corresponds to about 20 to 40 grams of carbs per half-liter (500 millilitres or 2 cups) of brew. You can also use gels, chews, energy bars or tablets to get your carbs. Look for different kinds of carbohydrates, each with a specific speed of absorption and ease of digestion; there are simple sugars (the –ose family: glucose, fructose, dextrose…) or complex ones (maltodextrins or starches).
    • The ideal product would also include electrolytes in sufficient quantities to allow you to take in 100 to 400 milligrams each of sodium and potassium in the offered format.
    • Certain versions have caffeine (or guarana, maca, etc.) for increased alertness and performance, although its stimulating effects can cause a rise in blood pressure, an increase in heartbeat and some nervousness; be aware that individual tolerance may vary.
    • A few kinds of sports drinks have glutamine, branched chain and other amino acids (they are the building blocks of protein) to nourish your muscles that undergo micro-tears during physical activity, this can be of added value when training lasts more than 2 hours.

    Give sports drinks a chance, they may be the secret to assisting you in performance, fighting fatigue and preventing the infamous bonk! Once thirst and hunger set in, it is already too late… Better off planning ahead! Have fun training and cheers to your health!!!


    Trevor Wurtele's Ironman Nutrition Plan

    Trevor Wurtele is a professional triathlete from Vernon, BC. Trevor, his wife Heather, and their cat Manah, are fixtures on the triathlon circuit. In 2012 Trevor won Ironman New Orleans 70.3. Trevor is a sponsored First Endurance athlete. Here is his nutrition plan:

    Pre race meals:

    During the week of an important race, mainly a full distance Ironman I’ll limit gluten in my diet.  I don’t have an adverse reaction to gluten, but I have no doubt it helps limit any digestive tract inflammation that could potentially cause some issues on race day.

    The day before a big race I’m not overly picky about what I eat during the day.  Lots of carbohydrate – gluten free pancakes if I can are great for lunch.  Loaded with nut butters, honey, jam, syrup, berries. For dinner I’ve been eating the same thing for the past 4 years:

    Mashed yams, potatoes, and carrots.  Side of well cooked fish, or chicken.  Some cooked spinach. Humus as side for some flavor.  I’m not shy about the butter and salt on those mashed yams either. This is my feel good race meal.  I always look forward to it.

    Throughout the day I’ll also drink at least a couple bottles of Ultragen.  I dilute the recommended two scoops into a larger (24oz) than recommended bottle as well.  If the race is looking to be extremely hot I’ll also take a few salt pills, and make sure to drink EFS drink during the day.

    Morning Breakfast:

    I’ve changed this numerous times over the past couple years. This one works great on a cooler morning.  Sometimes on hot days I just can’t bring myself to eat warm food.  
-Gluten free, blueberry pancakes with cinnamon honey, almond butter, maple syrup
-Bottle of Ultragen – 2 scoops in a 24oz bottle

    Pre Swim:
-150 calories of liquid shot followed with water 20min before start.

    On the bike:
-Plan of 400 calories per hour, at least.  I divide my calories up into 400 calorie bottles/gel flasks so I know I HAVE to take 1 per hour. Keeping in mind I weight 165 lbs and put out almost 1000 kj every hour during an Ironman bike leg.

    -Start the day with 3 x 24 oz bottles with 400 calories (200 EFS drink and 200 CarboPro to keep the sweetness down)
-2 x Liquid Shot flasks of 400 calories in my back pockets. 
-1 x single serve gel just in case I need a change or extra calories
-5 on course waters (~750ml each)…more if it’s hot.  Whenever I’ve had a good Ironman run, I’ve always peed at least twice on the bike and consumed my entire load of calories.

    On the run:

    -Water in my UltrAspire run belt that I refill at aid stations. Sometimes I put a bit of on course energy drink in there for a bit of flavour change.
-2 x liquid shot flasks of 400 calories each. Aim to finish one of them by 13 miles, but I have consumed a full flask by mile 11. Pick up my second flask at special needs and aim to finish that by mile 22 or 23. I only drink water at the aid stations.  My best Ironman run is 2:51 but calculate everything off 3 hours…so around 300 per hour on the run.  In general this is high, even though, as mentioned, I weigh 165lbs.  You need to practice this kind of calorie intake in training.
-Plan to take a salt pill every few miles. I adjust this intake based on the temperature of the day. 
-Also have a TUMS at mile 11 and mile 19. I just take a couple as insurance.  Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn’t.  But they do taste GOOD.
-I used to drink coke during the last bit of an Ironman.  I now do whatever I can to stay off it.  It does not do good things for my stomach.  I will however, grab coke in the last few miles if I need it.

    The Scoop on Caffeine

    There are many options to consider for your nutritional regimen when training and racing. One common question is whether or not to incorporate caffeine into your nutrition plan. You may get caffeine from your favorite brew, but you wonder if you should also have it in your nutritional supplements? Some products on athleti.ca are available with caffeine: for some athletes, caffeine is a must-have, but for others it’s not the best idea. Read on, to find out the facts and fiction on caffeine.

    The caffeinated buzz. 

    There is evidence that caffeine increases alertness, fights fatigue and improves physical endurance and strength. It stimulates bodily tissues and the brain. Caffeine can boost energy levels during a run, ride, hike or swim, and make you faster, meaner and stronger! Blood concentrations of caffeine peak 45 to 90 minutes after ingestion and it can take over 2 hours for levels to decrease. Miniaml dosages of 60 milligrams of caffeine per hour of exercise are required, and coffee-lovers probably need more than 200 milligrams an hour since the body gets used to its effects over time. If you choose caffeinated supplements, keep doing so througout a competition or event to avoid the caffeine slump…

    According to Health Canada, intake of less than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day causes no harm to health (nevertheless, the daily limit is set at 300 mg for pregnant and breast-feeding women). Although the International Olympic Committee allows for caffeine use, it maintains surveillance of its abuse in athletes. There is a downside to indulging in too much caffeine : daily intakes of more than 450 mg can cause nervousness, hypertension, irritability, anxiety, dehydration and disturbed sleep in athletes. Studies show that half of us have a genetic sensibility to caffeine (as predicted by our DNA), whereas the remaining 50% of individuals will remain insensitive to it and feel no difference. Keep in mind that individual tolerance will vary, so be careful to assess your reaction to it.

    Here, there, everywhere? 
    Food sources of caffeine are coffee (120 to 180 mg per 8-once cup in drip/filtered or percolated, 75 to 100 mg when instant and 90 mg for espresso), tea (30 to 50 mg a cup), cola-type soft drinks (35 to 80 mg in a 355 ml can) and chocolate (45 to 100 mg per 50 gram piece). Some natural products and beverages can hide caffeine under a mystery alias : guarana, kola nut or yerba mate. Caffeine content in supplements may vary, going from nil to 50 milligrams per serving (refer to the nutrition tables for each product). Note that most gels, chews and bars have very little caffeine (unless otherwise indicated), however some brews and electrolyte drinks will contain higher doses of this precious potion.

    As you can see, caffeine is not the make- or break-all in the athletic arena. The decision to opt for the caffeine kick or go without remains a question of personal preference, in your search for the gold! Train hard, eat right and consider a coffee break!!!