*Originally posted summer 2012
If you’re going to get on track with your nutrition – participating in endurance sports is definitely the key time to do it! Although as an athlete you can get away (weight wise) with eating foods with poor nutrition made of highly refined ingredients because you’re just burning through the carbohydrates during your training schedule – I can assure you it will decrease your ability to have as much endurance as possible throughout marathons, triathlons, half and full iron mans – and it’ll affect how you recover and how you feel.
So – if you’re going to put all that time and energy into training and waking up sometimes at 4am to begin your day – why would you want to perform less than at your best or not feel so great?
Last week I filmed a video with Ignition Fitness (triathlon coaching) for MultiSport Canada talking about fueling appropriately the weeks before, day before and day of your event.
Later in the summer, I talked about racing in the heat and what you can do to prevent dehydration and worse – hyponatremia (dangerously low sodium levels in the body that can lead to muscle spasm, cramping, nausea, vomiting, etc) or heatstroke. Yikes!
1. Pre-fuel with liquids – like a smoothie. This will help contribute to liquid intake a bit, plus it sits well in the stomach for those who get a little nauseous before a race.
2.Drink water before and during – 1/2 – 1 cup every hour of water leading up to the race (even the day before). During the race you want 1/2 cup every 15 min, but extreme heat can sometimes mean 1 cup every 15 min because of the excessive water loss.
3. Re-fuel with liquids – have juices, gels, homemade diluted sports drinks. This way you get fuel and hydration all in one and you won’t need to worry so much about both. Sometimes eating solid foods + guzzling water can make people feel sick.
4. Consume electrolytes – if you just drink pure water leading up to the race and during the race, you might end up with a dangerous state called hyponatremia* that I mentioned above. To avoid this you want adequate electrolyte/mineral levels from sea salt, coconut water, lemon and seaweed sources – or pre-made ones like Vega Electrolyte Hydrator. I highly recommend sea salt because the other two options don’t have a lot of sodium and you will eventually feel the sodium depletion in your training. The best and most efficient way to consume sodium is in a diluted form – not sprinkling your food with it.
*Hyponatremia is a dangerous condition and requires medical treatment. None of the above *treats* this condition, it can just help to prevent it.
Video #2 – fueling in general for endurance exercise & Mapping out the Welland Triathlon (I literally just came off crutches days before this and still had a tensor on my ankle that’s why I’m leaning 🙂
1. Consume HEALTHY carbohydrates – refined processed carbs will actually decrease your endurance by spiking and then lowering blood sugar levels which will cause stored carbs (glycogen) to be released too early. To get enough in eat dense granolas, smoothies or have them in bars. You’ll be needing a lot of fuel so don’t start relying on those coffee shop muffins and artificial granola bars just to fill up.
2. Don’t be scared of sea salt – you need more sodium and minerals than the average exerciser so avoid that uncomfortable nausea, muscle spasm, or worse, vomiting, during the race by sprinkling it over food and in your beverages for adequate water absorption.
3. Listen to your body – if you’re getting bloated or feeling heavy you should probably avoid that food because it will slow you down. If you’re someone who gets nervous or has a troubled digestive system a nutrient and caloric rich smoothie is your best bet before training and before events because it will break down more easily without the discomfort provided it doesn’t have irritating ingredients in it (eg. if you are sensitive to dairy, avoid having milk in it)
4. Avoid heavy protein the morning before an event – stick to carbohydrates and moderate healthy fats and protein to slow the release of those carbohydrates, thus sustaining your energy levels without feeling like a heavy pit of food in your stomach
5. Have fun! You’re training hard, so pay attention to your nutrition so you can enjoy the experience and do the very best that you can.