Top 10 Nutrition Tips
Good nutrition can provide the right fuel for you and your muddy mates during your pre-race training. To guide you through the hurdles, our staff nutritionist Nicola Tordoff has put together her top ten Muddy Mates nutrition tips, which will ensure that you and your mates are fuelling and nourishing your body to support your muddy training.
Wet & Wild
I’m talking about water. Proper hydration is vital to your physical performance and overall health. It’s useful to get into the habit of drinking little and often throughout the day to keep hydration levels optimal. When exercising for less than 60 minutes, an extra 200ml of fluid every 20 minutes can help you stay hydrated. Expert advice is to figure out your sweat rate so that you can accurately replace lost fluids, but an easier way of monitoring hydration levels is simply to check-in on your pee once in a while. We’re aiming for a pale yellow here people!
Keep it Clean
Antibiotics, pesticides and hormones found in non-organic foods along with preservatives and additives found in many processed foods can be difficult for the body to break down and may put extra load on the detoxification process, which can have consequences on health and energy levels. Toxins are stored in fat tissue and have also been linked with increased fat storage. Eating the organic way can be a bit of a challenge, but if budget is the issue, the trick is to limit exposure as much as possible by buying organic only when it comes to fruits and veggies that don’t have a tough outer layer that needs to be peeled away, such as salad leaves and apples.
Keep it Green
Vegetables are bursting full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. They also contain lots of fibre, provide energy, some contain probiotics and the non-starchy kind are low in calories. One simple and effective way to increase your intake of greens is to get into the habit of eating a raw green salad before your main meal. Not only does this provide important nourishment but it can also help you to feel fuller faster, which can ultimately lead to weight loss. Dark leafy greens like spinach are more nutritious than lighter, watery lettuces such as iceburg.
Complex carbohydrates are more difficult for the body to breakdown, meaning they don’t raise blood sugar levels as rapidly as simple carbohydrates and can provide more sustained energy throughout the day. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and lentils are all good sources of complex carbohydrates. These kinds of carbohydrates also tend to have a higher nutritional value compared to the more refined simple carbohydrates, which include white bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits and sweets.
Avoiding the Rust Bucket!
Antioxidants are natures anti-rust resource! They mop-up the havoc wreaking free radicals caused by oxidation. Oxidation is often thought about in terms of rust for the body and we all need a little help keeping the rust at bay but those who exercise regularly can be more prone to the effects oxidation. The good news is that we’re not defenceless against free radicals, as by increasing our intake of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables we can boost immunity and cellular function. The main antioxidant nutrients are vitamins A, C and E and the minerals selenium and manganese. Eating a variety of colourful produce can help you to increase your intake of all these important nutrients.
Protein provides us with the building blocks for cell growth and repair, helping us recover from exercise and replenish energy stores. Protein is essential in maintaining a healthy, strong and well functioning body. Good sources of animal protein include eggs, fish, chicken, low fat natural yoghurt and lean meats. Good vegetarian sources include beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, tempeh, tofu, quinoa, whole grains and even dark leafy greens contain a decent amount of protein. Few vegetarian sources of protein are complete (meaning they contain all essential amino acids) so it’s important to combine different vegetarian sources of protein where possible.
Fats can get overlooked or be avoided, but healthy fats in moderation serve to nourish us by enabling the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Essential fatty acids are crucial in the diet as we are not able to make them, but there tends to be an imbalance of the essential fatty acids in a typical western diet, with omega 6 outweighing omega 3. This imbalance has been linked to inflammatory responses and low immunity. Foods rich in anti-inflammatory omega 3 include oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring, milled flaxseeds and walnuts. Olive oil and avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, which has been linked to heart health and loss of belly fat. They also taste great on that green salad starter!
Trial and Error
We’re all different when it comes to digestion, so testing out what meals work for you prior to race day is important in ensuring there are no surprise mud slides (sorry) on the day! Some people can’t tolerate solid foods prior to exercise and do better fuelling up with a smoothie for breakfast instead. Test out what works for you prior to race day.
Your energy requirements may increase when you start training for the race and learning how to re-fuel your body to optimise energy levels is also a part of training. Healthy snacking on fibre rich complex carbohydrates with some protein can help to balance your blood sugar levels and keep your energy levels sustained throughout the day. A piece of fruit with natural yoghurt can help you to keep going between meals.
One of the great things about exercise is the post-training re-fuel. This is the window of opportunity that appears immediately after exercise when our muscles are most receptive to re-fuelling. Research has shown that consuming a carbohydrate rich snack within 15 minutes of exercise can help to push more glycogen into muscle stores. This is great news for fast recovery and fitness gains. It’s also a good opportunity to sneak in that sweet treat, but try not to overdo it if one of your goals includes weight loss. The advantages of burning calories by exercising can quite easily be undone by consuming more than the calorie expenditure. 0.3 - 0.6g of carbohydrate for each pound of body weight is what experts recommend.
If you're curious to learn more about nutrition on the build up to race day, contact our nutrition coach, Nicola Tordoff, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*People with medical concerns including diabetes, metabolic disorders and those on special diets should consult their doctor before making any changes to their current diet.