My name is Laurann O’Reilly and I’m a nutritionist in Tipperary, over the next few weeks I will be giving you some nutritional pointers on how to nutritionally prepare for training and large challenge events, such as the Fei Sheehy Challenge this August.
For those of you who are experienced in the area of Hill Walking, you are probably now aware of the intense training and the demands that your body is put under during large challenges. However, you may not be aware that nutrition plays a significant role in areas such as fitness, stamina, performance, endurance, hydration and recovery.
So I will begin with the basics.
There are 3 Keys to achieving the best from our food when training or completing a challenge and they are.
Type: This is extremely important as different foods have different functions. For instance we need carbohydrates for energy (fuel). Protein for repair of cells and recovery post work out and we require a certain amount of good fats to function and also to help in the absorption of our nutrients. We also require adequate hydration for which there are also different types which I will discuss.
Size: The size of our portions is also important but we all have different requirements. I will discuss how to work out the best portion size for you.
Timing: The timing of food, believe it or not is critical. We need to eat certain type of food at certain times as different foods digest at different rates and we need a constant flow of energy, especially when participating in an endurance challenge. The timing of when we eat certain foods also has an effect on recovery rates, which again I will discuss in more depth with you.
Type of Food
Today I will just discuss the type of food, namely the ‘macronutrients’, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, along their role in both your training and within a challenge.
These are our fuel and source of energy. What you may not know is that you can manipulate this source of nutrient to provide energy to you for when you need it ;).
We can do this in 3 ways
1) Fast Releasing Carbohydrates: These carbohydrates are usually high in sugar, readily digestible and give an immediate source of energy to the body. These are useful for before an intense training session or an event to ‘kick start’ your activity or to give you an extra boost of energy during a heavy training session or event. Examples of ‘fast releasing carbohydrates’ would be white bread, white pasta, glucose energy drinks/gels.
2) Slow Releasing Carbohydrates: These are usually wholemeal/wholegrain foods, these are slowly digested in the body over a longer period of time 2-4 hours and for this reason, they are the next source of energy when your fast releasing carbohydrate source of fuel runs out. They are great for stabilising blood sugar levels and keeping a constant flow of energy. Examples of ‘slow releasing carbohydrates’ are brown/wholemeal/wholegrain bread, brown rice, brown pasta, quinoa.
3) Body Glycogen Stores: In each of our body’s we have an ‘energy reserve’, this is in case we do not have access to food or if we run out of energy from food. Normally when we take in carbohydrates (glucose) the carbohydrates get stored in our body as ‘glycogen’. Here is the great part, if you are participating in an endurance event you can build up your glycogen stores in advance by eating plenty of nutritious carbohydrates 3-4 days in advance. Great foods for building up your glycogen stores would be potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta and rice.
Protein: This is extremely important as it helps to build muscle making you stronger and improving your endurance. It also plays a serious role in recovery. When we think about it, in training we damage our muscle to make it stronger and then we damage it again to make it stronger and so on. If we do not have good quality protein we cannot make the muscle stronger and it takes longer for it to repair. This whole ‘cycle’ is known as ‘recovery’. They key is getting a range of good quality protein in the source of lean meat, eggs, cheese, milk, nuts, seeds and sometimes from good quality protein supplements.
Fats: Believe it or not we actually need fats in our diet but the right type of fats that is (good fats). These ‘good fats’ as I call them are good for hair, skin, nails (not really of help for your event), but great for concentration, circulation, joints, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure as well as the absorption of your fat soluble vitamins A,D,E,K (which are responsible for bone health). The good fats also help to slow the rate at which food leaves the stomach. ‘Good Fats’ include oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, herring & kippers), nuts & seeds and olives. Olive oil is great for cold salads and rapeseed oil is great for cooking.
Now you know the importance of the types of foods when it comes to training and endurance events. In my next blog I will discuss how to distinguish the correct portion sizes for you.
Should you have any questions or if you would prefer to have your own plan made up, please feel free to contact me Laurann O’Reilly on 085-7337432 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright of Personal Nutrition & Health by Laurann O’Reilly