Spring is a time to start thinking about those summer fitness goals. What you are training for this year? It may be your first half marathon, perhaps a Gran Fondo (160 km cycle ride) or even an ironman triathlon.
Whatever your goals are, you will be sure to rigorously follow your training regime in order to accomplish your athletic aspirations. But did you know, that what you eat before, during and after your strenuous workouts is just as important as following your training schedule if you want to optimize performance?
SPORTS NUTRITION 101
If you are working out 5-6 times a week with an endurance even on your horizon, your daily diet should look something like this:
|Nutrient||Daily Calories based on 2000 calorie diet.|
|55% Carbohydrates||1100 calories per day|
|20% Protein||400 calories per day|
|25% Fat||500 calories per day|
Some athletes training for ultra endurance events will need a higher amount of carbohydrates, up to 65% of their daily food intake.
When people think of “carbs” they often think first of bread and pasta. These can form a part of an athletes diet without a doubt. However, don’t forget that fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are also nutritious sources of carbohydrates.
Starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal, topped with banana slices, Greek yogurt with fresh berries and a hard boiled egg would provide a good balance of carbs, protein and fat. As you can see, a low-carb diet has no place in a sports performance diet.
If the event you are training for will last longer than 90 minutes, you will benefit from added fuel before, during and after your event. “Fuel” tends to mean carbohydrates with a smaller amount of protein mixed in. Studies have long shown the benefits of fueling up with carbohydrates for moderate to intense exercise of longer duration; however, adding protein with the carbohydrates further augments the effect.
Take a look at the table to figure out how much fuel you need depending upon the intensity and duration of your workout.
|Exercise intensity/sport||Duration||Grams of Carbs Before Exercise||Grams of Carbs During Exercise||Grams of Carbs After Exercise|
|Intermittent high-intensity (cycling/run with hills or sprints)||60-90 mins||20-25 grams||30-60 grams||60-80 grams /hour for 3-4 hours|
|Moderate to high-intensity aerobic||>90mins||20-50 grams +||60-80 grams per hour plus ≈20 g protein||60-80 grams every 2-4 hours for rest of day. Plus 25 g protein|
|Moderate-intensity aerobic endurance||>5 hours||20-50 grams +||60-100 grams/ hour plus ≈ 20 g protein||60-80 grams every 2-3 hours for rest of day (& perhaps next day). Plus 25 g protein|
Before exercise refers to 10-15mins of the start of exercise and not your “pre-race meal”.
That’s a lot of fuel, which is why athletes tend to rely upon sports nutrition aids like gels, chews, energy bars and drinks like Gatorade. These have the added benefit of being calorie dense without a lot of bulk. It’s hard to eat a bowl of pasta while running a marathon. Drinking Gatorade (or other carbohydrate electrolyte solution drinks) regularly and throwing back an energy bar and gel each hour can help you get to where you need to be to optimize performance.
See the table for rich sources of carbohydrates. Cyclists may be able to manage a banana and bagel; whereas swimmers won’t be so lucky.
|Rich Sources of Carbohydrates||Grams of Carbohydrate||Grams of Protein|
|Power Bar||40 g||20 g|
|Power Bar Gel||28 g|
|Clif Bar||40-45 g||10-12 g|
|1 pack Honey Stinger Chews||39 g|
|Gu Chomps||23 g|
|Banana||25-30 g||2 g|
|Pear, apple, orange||15-20 g||1 g|
|1 piece whole wheat bread||15-20 g||4-8 g|
|Bagel||45 g||10-12 g|
|Gatorade 240ml/8oz||14g. Note: drinking 8 oz every 15mins = about 60g of carb/hour.|
After the Event or Long Workout
Just because your workout or event is over, it doesn’t meat your nutrition plan has ended. If you have worked out for over 90-120 minutes, you will need to eat between 1-1 ½ grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight at regular intervals to adequately restore your body’s glycogen stores for your next workout. Adding at least 25-30 grams of protein to your meals will help build muscle, reduce soreness and improve hydration levels.
- Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread and yogurt
- Bagel with peanut butter, jam and banana slices.
- Pasta with tomato sauce and chicken and whole grain roll
- Filet of salmon with wild rice, vegetables & corn on the cob
- Lean pork tenderloin, roasted butternut squash and polenta
- Tofu stir-fry with veggies and brown rice, fruit & yogurt
Make sure you consume your first snack within 30-45 minutes after your workout. This is your “anabolic window” when your body is most receptive to nutrients to build muscle and replenish its lost stores. So the final tip: stretch, eat, then shower.
Want more information? Contact me to arrange a consultation for your own Personalized Sports Nutrition Plan.
Don’t forget to check out the Recipe page for delicious, nutritious meals and snacks for you and your family.