Now is time for the nutrition part……
If someone changes their workout routine and begins exercising (or exercising more), why is it important that they change their diet?
A good nutritional plan is very important when starting or changing your training regime because whatever your goal be whether training for fat loss, adding lean muscle mass or sport specific training, you body needs a great deal of different nutrients that are absorbed from the food we eat, for the body to recover and get stronger, even just maintaining good bodily function and hormone balance.
Will I be hungrier if I’m exercising more? Does this mean I should be eating more often or bigger portions?
When you do any physical activity your body needs energy to fuel it. Put simply you body will utilizes the calories you have ingested as fuel. The more physical activity you do the more energy you use, the more calories you need to take in. There has been much debate over what is the best way to effectively utilize the food you eat when it comes to the topic of portion size and meal frequency, recent studies suggest that there is no significant difference in utilizing nutrients from having three meals a day compared to 6 meals a day, as long as all your nutrient requirements are hit. In my opinion smaller portion sized meals eaten more frequently can be beneficial when sticking to quite a strict nutrition plan as it reduced the risk of things such as snacking and giving you more control of food intake through out the day. At the end of the day it is down to preference, if you cant stomach three big meals have six small ones, if your don’t like having 6 small one have three big ones. Just be sure to hit your nutrient requirements.
What type of foods should athletes be eating in general? What type of foods should they eat before exercise to give them energy and after exercise to help their body/muscles recover quicker?
Regardless of your goal or training regime everybody needs everyone needs certain nutritional requirements for a healthy diet, but as we are training for a triathlon we will lean towards that a little.
Carbohydrates: carbs are used to maintain energy levels and can be found in; whole grain food, rice, pasta, porridge oats, and potatoes. Carbs are stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. Water is needed to help the body store glycogen and is one of the reasons why being hydrated is so important.
Protein: protein is the building block of muscle repair after a hard training session, the body utilizes it to repair grow and strengthen muscles. There are two types of protein, complete and incomplete. Complete proteins contain amino acids essential to build tissue, they are found in meat, eggs, some dairy, and seafood. Foods such as beans, and grains do not contain amino acids and are incomplete. Vegetarians can get their protein requirements from quorn products, low fat dairy products and protein rich plants.
Fats: Healthy fats are used to increase endurance and aid the body with recovery. Fats get a bad name but they are as important as any other nutrient when training. Low fat diets can result in Protein breakdown and therefore loss of strength. Although fats contain more calories than carbs or protein they are harder for the body to break down so energy is released more slowly.
Fiber: In the form of vegetables and fruit should be consumed daily (try to have a bit of fiber with every meal). Fiber can actually help the body digest protein, and is full of antioxidants to keep a healthy immune system.
Vitamins and minerals: these are essential for good health and wellbeing, always try to get them from real foods though rather than tablet form as the body will absorb it better.
Water: the amount of water you need to keep hydrated will differ from person to person taking into account the climate you live in the amount of training you do and you size and make up. Mineral water is preferable and is necessary to aid in carb storage, body temperature and bodily waste, also digestion.
What types of foods should be cut out of the diet completely? Or other lifestyle choices?
Foods that can and should be cut out of your diet are fast food, cakes, sweets, fizzy drinks and confectionary. These are high in bad fats and sugar, and offer no real beneficial nutrients. They also can be addictive.
As a vegetarian, how will my diet differ if I’m an athlete? How can I get good sources of protein?
As a vegetarian your diet will differ with the protein sources you eat. Meat is the most universal and well-known protein source but don’t despair you can still easily hit your protein requirements from other foods. Here are a few options; green peas, quinoa, nuts, beans, chickpeas, tofu, and as mentioned before low fat dairy products.
On race day, what is the best pre-race meal that will give me long-lasting energy?
Most races are early in the morning so the night before you want to have a carb rich meal that is friendly to you body, something tried and tested such as pasta with a mild sauce. On the day of the race you ideally should be having a big breakfast 3 to 4 hours before to give yourself enough time to digest it. The calorie intake at breakfast wants to be high any where between 500 to 1000 calories depending on your predicted energy expenditure, slow releasing foods such as whole grain cereals and yogurt would be a good idea to get carbs proteins and fats for the task ahead.
Is it true that if I’m doing lots of exercise, I can eat whatever I want and will be able to burn it off?
Simply put no this is not true. Your body needs a certain amount of each nutrient on a daily basis to function properly and anything vastly over the number and your body wont utilizes it and it will turn into fat. To optimize you athletic performance you should have a diet that would mimic a high level athlete, which unfortunately is not McDonalds and cakes on a daily basis.
Am I allowed a little indulgent treat every now and then?
Of course!!! The discipline needed to train and diet for a triathlon is taxing to say the least, and you will drive yourself crazy if you don’t treat yourself every now and again. The most successful people are the guys that get creative with their nutrition plans, understanding the values of food groups but still enjoying their meals is the key to prolonged success in this department.
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