Welcome to the season of hayrides, apple picking, squash heaven and (my personal favorite) Pumpkin everything!
While I do love all of those things, I don’t really love the bitter coldness when I am biking around campus. Eh…Give and take, right? Right.
As I have mentioned I am really working towards my goal of a marathon in May. Because of this my training has increased and as a result.. so has my appetite! No complaints though, we all know how much I love food. I have been training for races (25k’s, 10k’s, 5k’s, sprint triathlons, olympic triathlons.. yada, yada, yada) for years. I love competition (Although some might say too much… oops) Anyway, I have really been thinking about HOW to train. Training is so much more than just hitting the gym. In the past I know I have not put enough consideration into my diet as I have into gym time.
After having 2 more years of studying dietetics under my belt since my first long-ish race (15 miles) I am determined to train the RIGHT way. Training isn’t just done in the gym… it is done in the kitchen, too.
Should I eat before I workout? How soon before? Well, what foods? What about after? Wait, during?!
These are the kinds of questions I get asked all of the time. Most people know the basics of eating right (whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, stick with lean meats…etc) but don’t really know how to best nourish a high level of physical activity.
Here are a few FAQ’s about Athlete’s diets
1. Do I need really high amounts of protein to make my muscles get bigger?
Well friends, No. Protein is key in a balanced diet, but eating tons and tons of it won’t make you “swol” The best way to get larger muscle is to work them. “Carbohydrates are the best fuel for working muscles,” says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Heather Mangieri, MS, RDN, CSSD. “Fifty to sixty percent of energy used during one to four hours of continuous moderate to hard endurance activity is derived from carbohydrates,” says Mangieri.
Protein recommendations for athletes
Power athletes (strength or speed): 1.2-1.7 g/kg per day
Endurance athletes: 1.2-1.4 g/kg per day
(This is about 84-119 g/day for men and 66-95g/day for women. Compare that to the sedentary recommendations which are 56 for men and 45 for women)
2. Should I eat before I workout?
Yes!! It is proven that exercise performance improves when a person is not in a fasted state. Even if you are working out in the morning try to get something down. You will have a steadier blood sugar level and you liver will have a adequate amount of glycogen. The more time before you workout the larger amount of food you can eat and the closer to a workout stick to a smaller snack (like a piece of fruit) Try to get some carbohydrates in so you have a good fuel tank for your workout.
3. Should I be drinking a post workout protein shake?
Not necessarily. Most of the time an athletes can get adequate amounts of protein supplied from their diet alone without any supplementation. So they are not necessary in the sense of needing to drink a high concentration of protein. However, it is KEY to eat a mix of carbs, protein and fat within 15 minutes to an hour post-exercise. However, this can easily be done by eating regular food, it does not need to be done by supplementation. So, in short, do they are not necessary. However they can be convenient say, if you don’t have time to make a sandwich to take with you to eat after you hit the gym.
but PLEASE be smart about selecting a protein powder if you do choose to go that route. There are SO many that are junk. Be sure to read the label ALL THE WAY THROUGH! check to see if there are any fillers or artificial stuff. (look for another post to come on this topic)
While a lot of emphasis is put on foods in sports nutrition it is just as important to stay hydrated! The rule of thumb is to drink 3 cups of water for every lb lost during a workout.