A good diet isn’t all about weight management, what you eat as an athlete matters as it fuels your body for training, recovery and performance. If you don’t fuel wisely and eat a good balance of nutrients you will not recover well after each training session and won’t grow stronger.
So, what you eat and when you eat matters. A quality diet consisting of a good mix of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals is important. And when you eat is key – timing is everything. You should fuel your body throughout the day, as well as, before, during and after a workout, depending on the length and intensity of the workout. Do not leave too long between eating as it can leave you craving food and you end up overeating.
Hydration is also important. It aids proper digestion, nutrient absorption and improves performance. If you do not drink enough throughout the day and during workouts you may feel nauseated, have dry lips and throat, or be fatigued; it may also reduce your ability to concentrate at work or complete your workouts. The amount you need to drink varies from person to person, so listen to your body and drink when you feel thirsty.
As an athlete you spend time and effort planning your races and doing the training; part of that planning should include how you fuel yourself to enhance your training, recovery and performance. British Triathlon have come up with some meal ideas for triathletes. If you plan ahead and know what you will be eating each week it will help you fit everything into your busy schedule, and means you won’t be tempted to binge eat on your return from a hard workout.
Be smart and plan your diet!
By Tina Peck (Future Fit Certificate in Nutrition & Weight Management (AFN), VTCT Level 3 Award in Nutrition for Physical Activity & Torq Performance Nutrition Course)