There are so many thoughts about food and fitness. Below I want to clear up a few of the common mistakes I hear athletes making.
Eat Food You Train on Anytime – Training food is meant for training. If you use a bar on the bike as a fuel source, limit the consumption of that food during a normal daily basis. The possibility of you getting tired of the food is much greater when you eat your training food as snacks on a regular basis outside of training.
Unknown Hydration Needs – When was the last time you did a sweat test? Never? Well, now is the time. Especially in our Texas heat it is important to understand how much fluid your body needs to help with proper hydration during and after training or an event. Fluid needs will change with the weather so a sweat test would be good to do as the seasons change. Click HERE to go to the Ironman website; it provides the steps to calculate your sweat rate.
Skipping a Rest Day – Often, training takes a ton of time, so on “rest” days, athletes mow the lawn, paint the house, scrub the floor, etc…rather than rest. Rest days are just as important as your workouts! For real!! Rest days are the days that your body is allowed to rebuild from all the stress it has been through during the week. Improvements are found after a workout, not during. If rest days are not honored, inflammation could last longer than normal, the immune system is more vulnerable and improvements in performance could take longer to occur. The next time you think about skipping a rest day…don’t. Enjoy it!
Recovery Food is Far from Nutritious – What do you see at most races??? Beer. After a hard workout, if you want to recover well and rebuild the muscles & glycogen, you must give your body real food. Did you know that alcohol can impact you up to 3 days later? That means the beer you had on Saturday could impact your performance all the way into Tuesday? Other foods such as fried food, candy and sweets are also not the best recovery food as they will all cause inflammation in your body. That would be the opposite of what your recovery should be. Recovery foods should include carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes accompanied by proper rehydration.
Avoid Carbohydrates – Carbs are not your enemy! As athletes, carbs provide our muscles energy. I am not saying you need to carb overload or that some athletes perform better with carb timing. What I am saying is that if you eliminate carbs all together, your performance is going to suffer in the long run.
Sacrifice Sleep – Sleep is a must for recovery, rejuvenation, mood stability, immune function and cognitive function. Athletes train so hard all day, without proper sleep adequate recovery will not take place. Athletes are recommended to get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night and some athletes notice better performance with 9 or more.
Eating Too Little – Some athletes are right on target with their daily needs. The problem often comes when training load increases. A common sign of too few calories is fatigue, difficulty with recovery, inability to reach training stress recommended by your coach and prolonged soreness.
It is important to remember that we are all unique and our bodies will all thrive on variations of nutrition. The basics are this: carbohydrates are the fuel for our muscles; protein rebuilds our muscles; fat provides energy to our body, helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins and helps us create hormones like testosterone and estrogen. They are each imperative to our performance but the quantity or timing of these nutrients vary for each of us.
If you have questions please feel free to reach out. Also, feel free to leave a comment below.