If you are an athlete who trains to exhaustion, you are either fueling up for a workout or refueling and recovering from the workout. While much attention has been placed on recovery, I find that many of my clients are confused about how to best refuel after a tiring workout. Here are a few tips based on research presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 2013 Annual Meeting (www.acsm.org).
• It’s never too late to improve your sports diet.
Even experienced veteran cyclists often do a poor job of refueling. Only 38% of 212 competitive cyclists chose a carbohydrate-protein mix. Because residual fatigue from both training and competition strongly influences the ability to perform optimally, you would be wise to pay attention to a proper recovery diet!
• Be sure to include enough carbs in your daily diet.
Among 215 Navy SEALs, 86% ate less than the recommended carbohydrate intake (>2.5 g grams carb/lb; >5 g carb/kg). Like many serious athletes, the SEALs chose a high protein diet that would help build muscles—and skimped on the carbs needed to optimally fuel muscles.
• Rehydrate soon after you exercise; don’t delay until evening.
Although adequate hydration contributes to optimal performance, it can disrupt sleep in athletes who rehydrate primarily at the end of the day. A study with 35 male rugby players indicates 75% of them did a good job of rehydrating at a 10-day training camp. However, those who hydrated well at night tended to wake up at least three or more times to urinate. For better sleep, drink more fluids right when you finish exercising, instead of near bedtime.
• Don’t hesitate to make your own recovery drink.
A study comparing a fruit smoothie (made with milk, banana,berries) with a commercial product showed similar recovery benefits for subjects who did muscle-damaging exercise. Both recovery drinks offered the same amount of calories, protein, and carb. Food works!
• Spend your money on real fruits, veggies and whole foods –not on supplements.
• For 17 days, well-trained cyclists took an antioxidant supplement containing freeze-dried fruit-vegetable juice powder. The supplement offered no boost in immune function beyond that created by exercise itself.Instead of antioxidant pills, you might want to put that money towards your health club membership?
Q. I’m the coach of both a youth football team and a youth baseball team. in the summer, I’ve have noticed that the kids ask for water breaks during baseball more often than in the fall. Since the weather is typically cooler in the fall, should I schedule fewer water breaks or should I give the football players the same drinking opportunities as the kids in the summer?
ANSWER: Yes, you should indeed schedule as many water breaks! For youth football players, the weather can become tropical inside their uniforms. They can sweat a lot, even if the weather feels cool for the coaches and parents. Yet, because the weather is cool, the kids may not think to drink as often.
If the kids become dehydrated, they will be cranky, tired, and have less fun. One goal of youth sports is to have FUN! So please do offer your team frequent drinking opportunities. You can use the breaks as a time to educate the kids about the importance of staying well hydrated so they feel better and prevent needless fatigue.
As for what to drink, water is generally fine for youth sports. As long as they have had a pre-practice snack, they will have the energy they need to perform well and will not need sugar-based sports drinks.They will not be sweating enough to require the little bit of sodium (electrolyte) that is in a sports drink. Sports drinks are designed to be takenduring endurance exercise that lasts for more than 1.5 hours, such as marathons; sports drinks generally are not essential for youth sports.
While many kids enjoy sports drinks before, during and after practices and games, I’d encourage wholesome foods before exercise (banana,bagel, orange, graham crackers), water during (or water fruit such as watermelon chunks or orange slices if they seem low on energy), and chocolate milk afterwards (if the kids will not be eating a meal soon thereafter). Chocolate milk for recovery contains both carbs to refuel the muscles, as well as protein to build and repair muscles – as well as calcium for growing bones. While the kids should not be training to the point of becoming depleted at which point they would really need a recovery drink, teaching them about optimal sports nutrition practices will invest in their future athletic career when sports becomes more intense.
As a coach, would like to give a sports nutrition book to each athlete on your team?
As a group exercise leader, would you like to raffle a doorprize to the folks who show up for class?
As a health teacher, would you like to provide a practical nutrition text at a minimal cost?
Well guess what: the fourth edition of my Sports Nutrition Guidebook is on sale!
Special Sale: 24 Sports Nutrition Guidebooks for only $240.
That's one case of books at half price! I can even autograph them, upon request.
Please pass along this info to people who might be interested in this special offer-- --collegiate athletes -- a book for everyone on the team --coaches and parents of youth sports organizations (soccer, football, gymnastics) --health teachers who want an inexpensive text book (or supplemental text) --corporate wellness programs as a give-away upon enrollment
Disclosure: A new 5th edition of my Sports Nutrition Guidebook is hot off the press. Hence, I'd like to sell the copies of the 4th edition that remain in my garage. The nutrition information in the 4th edition is accurate, so this is still a good book.
Q. How important are carbohydrates vs. proteins for runners?
Today's literature seems to say all sorts of things?
A. Runners (and all athletes) need carbs to fuel the muscles (and the brain)
and protein to build and repair muscles. Carbs and protein do different jobs
in the body so we need to consume both.
All carbs (fruits, veggies, grains and sugars) digest into glucose, the fuel
preferred by the brain. If you have low blood glucose, you’ll feel lightheaded
and dizzy. No need to get to that point with proper fueling
(plus being light-headedis no fun)!
Your body needs more calories from carbs than protein:
--about 2 to 5 grams carb per pound of body weight
(depending on how active you are)
--about 0.5 to 0.9 grams protein per pound
(depending if you are a fully-muscled adult or a growing teenager).
Rather than get caught up in numbers, just be sure to have wholesome grains,
fruits and veggies as the foundation of each meal (two-thirds of the plate),
with some protein as the accompaniment. You’ll end up with the right balance.
But if you have just a protein shake, let’s say for a recovery food,
you will lack the carbs needed to refuel the muscles. Make that protein
shake into a carb-protein fruit smoothie!
Or if you have a chicken Caesar salad (protein and fat), be sure to have a
whole grain bagel with it, or crackers, or add some rice to the salad.
NOTE: If you live near any of the workshop locations, please share this announcement with coaches, athletic trainers, personal trainers,dietitians, nutrition educators, and yes, serious athletes themselves.
“Training low” (with low carbohydrate stores) and "competing high" (with muscles fully loaded with glycogen) as a means to enhance competitive performance is receiving attention from coaches, elite athletes, and researchers alike. A 2005 study (1) with untrained subjects suggests that training with deplete glycogen stores can enhance adaptive muscle responses to conditions that might occur at the end of a competitive event. Training low might also reduce reliance on limited glycogen stores. When Hansen’s subjects“competed” with loaded glycogen stores, they performed better.
These results have raised questions and controversy. If you restrict your carbohydrate intake during training, you will become unable to train hard, and that can hurt your athletic ability. Sports dietitian Louise Burke PhD of the Australian Institute of Sports suggests inserting a few “training low” sessions into the training program where the focus is on making “aerobic” gains. You would want to target the sessions in the week where quality, intensity, or techniques are not as important.
You can train low by having either low blood glucose or low muscle glycogen; both scenarios can happen during a second training session in a day. Note: Adding caffeine to a “low” training session can enhance power by about 9%, but this still does not match the power generated by fully glycogen-loaded muscles plus caffeine.
Training low is not much fun. For most ordinary mortals, staying well fueled on a daily basis is a smart investment. I suggest you fuel your muscles on a daily basis with quality grains, fruits and vegetables. By being well fueled, you'll be able to work hard and enjoy improving your performance.
(1) Hansen A, C Fischer, P Plomgaard, J Andersen, B Saltin, B Pedersen 2005.Skeletal muscle adaptation: training twice every second day vs.training once daily. J Appl Physiol88(1):93-9
I’m training for amarathon and get annoyed by having to stop to urinate during my training runs. I drink a lot the day before, and I drink about 8 ounces 45 minutes before I start. I then have to pee at mile 2, then mile 5. The urine is a light color. I’m tempted to not drink anything…
The kidneys need about 45 to 90 minutes to process liquid; nerves might hasten the process! Try drinking earlier, void the excess, and then tank up again. For example, if have a long run on Sunday at 8:00 am. Drink well the day before (stopping by 7:00 p.m, so you don't wake up 5 times during the night to go to the bathroom), then in the morning, have a good drink by 6:00-6:30. That should give you time to get rid of the excess water.
Alternatively, if drink well the day before and are well hydrated, you could drink 8 to 12 ounces right before you start the run, so the water will be in your system and not in your kidneys.
Experiment and learn what works best for your body!
Could eating beets or beet juice before daily training help athlete strain harder and thereby enjoy better competitive outcomes?
Speaking at a international sports nutrition conference organized by PINES (Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise and Sport), AndyJones PhD of Exeter University in the UK reported that consuming nitrate-rich beetroot juice boosts blood levels of the nitric oxide precursor, nitrite, and this helps reduce the amount of oxygen needed during constant-work-rate exercise.
Hence, for the same oxygen uptake, athletes who consume beetroot “shots” (concentrated beetroot juice) might be able to exercise at a higher intensity; for example, a runner might improve by 5 seconds per mile. In general,athletes see about a 1.5% improvement in performance.
However, some athletes respond better to beetroot juice (and other nitrate-rich foods) than do others. Perhaps the initially “strong responders” tend to have a low intake of all nitrate-rich fruits and vegetables and as a result have a lower nitrite baseline?
To boost your nitrate intake, consume not only beets, but also strawberries, rhubarb, arugula, and spinach.
Note: Athletes who take beetroot juice should avoid using mouthwash. Mouthwash kills the bacteria in the mouth initiate the converion of nitrate into nitrite and then nitric oxide.
Most dieters want to lose weight quickly. The problem is that plan tends to backfire. You can lose weight fast or lose weight forever—but not lose weight fast and forever. Most dieters regain about two-thirds of their weight loss within a year and all of it within 3 to 5years.
If you have lost weight quickly, your body will fight for food as a response to having been starved. You’ll have to white-knuckle the situation for as long as you can (but you’ll unlikely win the war against extreme hunger).
If you have lost weight slowly, here are some tips to help you maintain that loss of undesired body fat:
--eat fewer fatty foods
--watch less TV
--have strong social support
--sleep more than 5 hours a day.
Chewing gum can help lean people consume fewer calories, but that is not the case for obese gum-chewers. (Perhaps the act of chewing increases their desire to eat?)
To stay on track, successful dieters should plan ahead by predicting everything that could possibly go wrong with their eating plan and develop strategies to deal with the unexpected. For example, if the waiter serves the salad soaked with dressing (the dressing is not served on the side, as requested), the dieter knows he or she can
If you’re competing in cold water, take a thermos of warm (not hot) water to the swim start with you. Just before zipping up your wetsuit, pour the warm water into the suit. With a layer of warm water next to your body, you don’t have to heat up the cold lake water that seeps into the wetsuit the first few meters.
Detailed off-season plans fortriathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and triathlon plans are found here.
Before I tell you about High Anxiety and Psychopath, I want to preface the story by telling you this off-season’s work has improved my cycling. More about that later.
(Click on the photo to elarge the view.)
Those of you familiar with Breckenridge ski resort know some of the classic trail names such as High Anxiety and Psychopath. It’s been years since I’ve skied at Breckenridge, but I couldn’t pass up the new snow and a $25 lift ticket. Three of us headed for the hills and took advantage of the opportunity yesterday.
I took the newly rebuilt Garmin 800 on the trip and I could actually see trail names on the map (above), which I wasn’t able to do with theold Garmin firmware. You can see the complete Garmin Connect file for the day here.
The snow was great, but (and?) some of the most challenging conditions I’ve skied in a long time. The top t-bar and upper lift runs were windblown thick snow on top of new snow that’s been preserved for a week. (The resort’s official closing was last weekend. They decided to reopen for Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend.) Snow on the upper mountain was really deep with a roughly four-inch layer of wind-packed snow on the top. The top runs off of the t-bar had moonscape snow waves that were wind-hardened. Moonscape was actually a bit easier to ski than the deep powder with the packed top layer. I took a digger in the powder with packed top and when I tried to retrieve a ski I would sink to my crotch. That’s a report on the tough stuff.
We did find some lighter new snow lower on the mountain, some good wind-blown light powder and some great snow on the groomers. None of the snow was classic Colorado champagne powder, but the five feet (yes, that is FEET) of snow we've received in April is much appreciated for the water situation.
I’m certainly not the first one to find that winters sports such as skiing, skating, working on strength and doing balance skill building in the off-season helps cycling. Olympian Eric Heiden was among the first notable athletes to use this kind of crosstraining. Dave Wiens is legendary for winning the prestigious Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race and using skiing and hockey as winter training. My interview with Dave can be found here.
Though I haven’t done much mountain biking this spring, what I have found so far is that my balance is better, I have good power output on some of the short climbs and my weaker right turn ability has seen significant improvement.
Not only has more skiing been great fun this winter, I believe it will contribute to a strong cycling season.
Have any of you changed your winter training and seen some positive indicators?
Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and triathlon plans are found here.
In the past month I’ve had two athletes decide to be more accountable for nutrition. By simply keeping a food log, they have both dropped weight. One of them is logging food prior to consumption, the other after. Both have said it has helped them make better choices and control portion size. The mindless eating ended. They are not “dieting” because no food choice is off the table. All choices are available because it is a conscious decision to eat or drink calories/energy/nutrition.
Both athletes feel great and energy has increased.
If you’re beginning to think about shedding some winter fluff, consider holding yourself accountable for your energy bank account. Consider the quality and quantity of your calorie investment. Is that investment going to pay you big dividends in the next one to six months?
If not, change your investment portfolio now.
Detailed off-season plans fortriathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and triathlon plans are found here.