Unlock Your Potential
Following a healthy balanced diet and living an active life is important to staying healthy, but can also play a crucial role in helping to unlock your potential.
Our friends at Lucozade Sport break down the key components you need in your nutrition plan...
Carbohydrates provide a major source of energy for the muscles and brain during exercise and therefore play a key role in helping to maintain an active lifestyle.
Top tips for carbohydrates
Eat more unrefined carbohydrates, e.g. wholewheat pasta, brown rice, sweet potatoes, lentils, wholewheat bread, wholegrain cereal, oats, fruit and vegetables.
Complex carbohydrates contain more fibre which improves digestive health and is an integral part of a healthy diet. Choose moderate to low glycaemic index carbohydrate foods which are more slowly digested by the body two to three hours before exercise. Sticking to foods you’re used to and enjoy eating will help you achieve your best in training and on Race Day. Porridge, brown toast, pasta or rice-based meals are all excellent choices.
Do not get confused – carbohydrate is the energy source for all of your training and Race Day. Protein is required for the development of your structure, i.e. it is the building block for muscle maintenance, muscle growth and normal bones.
If you are training hard and attempting to maintain or increase muscle mass, you may need extra protein to assist in repair, growth and development. Physically active individuals are advised to include 1.2 to 2g of protein per each kg of their body weight in their daily diet.
For an average female this is equal to 72 to 120g of protein per day which can be easily achieved through eating protein-rich foods, such as lean meats, dairy products, pulses and lentils. For example, a small chicken breast provides 30g of protein, a small sirloin steak 20g and a small pot of Greek yoghurt provides 10g.
Add extra protein to your running recovery strategy. Take on 15 to 25g of high quality protein during the first two hours after exercise which can help to achieve optimal muscle maintenance and growth. This is equivalent to a palm size of protein on a plate of food.
Contrary to popular belief, not all fats are actually bad for you. In fact, some types of fat are essential and form a very important part of a balanced diet. Low fat diets may result in you missing out on essential nutrients. So you do need some fat. The question is which ones and how much?
Top tips for fats
Limit the amount of saturated and trans (fried) fats whenever possible – fried foods, burgers, sausages, pies, butter, cream, cakes etc.
Instead choose foods that contain unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oils, oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocados. Aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including at least one portion of oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna, sardines and pilchards.
Avoid deep fried foods and consume stir-fried, dry roasted, baked, grilled or steamed foods as an alternative. If you’re looking for a healthy snack during the day a handful of nuts and seeds are a great option.
In healthy individuals water makes up to approximately 50 to 60 per cent of total body mass and plays a critical role in almost all physiological functions, from ensuring normal cognitive function to helping cool you down during exercise.
To get the best out of ourselves we should aim to consume two litres of water daily, however there is an increased importance whilst undertaking regular training and extra fluids may be required.
During exercise it is important to stay hydrated. Understanding when and what to drink during exercise and putting into practice what you know can help you to get the most out of your workout and perform at your best on Race Day. Follow our guide below to find out more about how you can optimise your hydration strategy.
Why staying hydrated during exercise is important
During exercise our body temperature rises. This causes our body to sweat. Sweating is the most effective way for our body to cool. If sweat losses are not replaced by consuming suitable fluids, dehydration can occur.
Your body works best when it is fully hydrated. A loss of two per cent of body weight as a result of dehydration (which in an average female is as little as 1.2kg) can cause your heart to work harder and your muscle to fatigue. In other words, you don’t feel at your best and exercise becomes harder.
How to optimise hydration
- Pre-exercise: Aim to consume 5-10ml per/kg of body weight two to four hours before training or competition which will allow enough time for fluids to be absorbed. For a 60kg runner that equates to 300 – 600ml of fluids, or one to two regular glasses.
- During exercise: It’s important to listen to your body and drink to thirst. Try to avoid taking on large amounts of fluid throughout the race. Drinking little and often is a much smarter way to keep hydrated during training sessions and the race.
- Post-exercise: Your rehydration strategy should be to consume 150 per cent of the sweat loss after exercise to ensure effective post-exercise rehydration. If a 70kg athlete lost 1kg of body mass during exercise, she/he would need to consume 1.5L fluid after exercise to fully rehydrate. This is equivalent to around six glasses of fluid.