Saturday, 13 September 2014

Training Nutrition

A lot of blogs and sites will tell you what to eat on race day. THEIRONGUIDE wants to help with a few simple rules for nutrition for the weeks during the IM training program. First, the disclaimer - while this is a guideline that has proved successful for me, remember that every person is different and any change to diet, training load or technique MUST have precautions. A dietician should be consulted before any dramatic change to diet. This list has been produced from many articles, some of which are linked at the bottom of the post.

1)      When to eat? Many studies outline the importance of eating when the metabolism is at its highest function. To this end, I always attempt to eat immediately after exercise (within the first 40minutes). This takes preparation before the session but will pay dividends afterwards.

2)      Eat well in advance of going to sleep. As a general rule, I eat by 7pm. This lets the food digest while I get everything ready for the following day. It also means that the stomach is not turning over while lying in bed trying to get to sleep.

3)      Recovery food following strenuous exercise needs a higher percentage of protein. It has long been accepted that, “beneficial effects such as reduced muscle soreness and markers of muscle damage become more evident when supplemental protein is consumed after daily training sessions” (Sports Med 2014). Follow link below for further information. Recovery therefore needs protein in the first 40minutes.

4)      I do NOT eat prior to training sessions in the morning. Some journal articles have determined that there is very little carbohydrate loss in the body from the night before (apart from a small amount in the liver). This also extends to NOT eating prior to an Ironman event in the morning. Common practice is to get up and eat at least 3 hours before the event to allow for digestion and not draw blood to the stomach as it will be required for the large muscle groups during exercise. I am not prepared to get up and eat at 3am when there is minimal loss if the Carb-loading is completed correctly. A word of warning – this does take practice and may not be for everyone. See cyclo-fuel dietary guide link below for more information.

5)       NO SUGAR. Actually, this is not quite correct as glucose is fine however the other parts of sugar including sucrose, dextrose and fructose are out as well as any manufactured sweetener. Fructose as part of fruit is fine. Glucose is processed in a different manner to other sugars within the body. For this reason I make my own sports drink out of glucose powder, branch chain amino acids and electrolyte tabs. Sugar is also detrimental to tendon and ligament health. Most sugar is hidden within processed food including breads, drinks and sauces so these are avoided. In addition, avoid mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Animal fats are ok (and olive oil is also a better option)

David Gillespie’s book “Big fat lies” has these two main recommendations (see link below) and I have been a supporter of this now for 2 years and enjoyed good health and energy levels throughout my training.

6)      Embrace the “super foods. Super foods are a label developed by marketing companies; however choose foods high in nutrition and fibre e.g. berries, oats, beans, dark green vegetables (e.g. spinach, broccoli etc.), walnuts and salmon.

7)      Simple, unprocessed foods are the best sources of nutrients. It is a simple rule of thumb but food around the outside of any supermarket is the unprocessed food we should seek out. Fruits, vegetables, simple grains, dairy etc. The inner isles hold all of the heavily processed and additive foods which should be avoided.

8)      In any training session up to an hour, sports drinks are not required. I would recommend an electrolyte tablet to water or just plain water depending on the intensity.

9)      Supplements are just that – supplemental. 99% of your vitamins and minerals should come from natural foods. I take supplements but only as a back-up, not a primary method of intake.

There you have it – the 9 simple YOUIRONGUIDE guidelines to diet and eating during a training program I follow. It goes without saying that what you get out of each session relies heavily on the fuel you give to your body (and when). To have the most energy and focus – have a look at your diet and see if any of the 9 guidelines will help you. As a final thought, remember to train like you race. Don’t change any intake on race day that you have not trialled well before the big day.

 Quick and easy recovery shake


Protein for refuel

Eating before exercise

Big Fat Lies (David Gillespie)

A great link also added on Dave Scott's (a true legend of Ironman) thoughts on Nutrition which also supports the YOURIRONGUIDE principles:

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