Why is Vitamin D Intake So Important?

Why is Vitamin D Intake So Important?

Sometimes called the “Sunshine Vitamin”, Vitamin D is involved in so many physiological functions, when looking at the detail, you almost wonder if there is anything this vitamin doesn’t do!  It has received increased attention in the last 10 years, with many people taking daily supplements as part of their everyday routine.

Vitamin D is normally obtained through exposure of the skin to UVB through sunlight. This is great in the summer months, but during the winter, when days are shorter and exposure to sun is less, we run the risk of developing a Vitamin D deficiency. This is quite widespread in those that live in northern latitudes where sunlight levels are lower, including little old us here in GB! Another great reason to lap up any winter sunshine when it appears, let alone because it makes training or being outdoors much less bracing!

The variations of Vitamin D deficiency status between individuals can also be seen as a result of dietary intake, clothing worn during exercise and overall lifestyle (30). Whatever the reason for Vitamin D deficiency, it can have a significant effect on not only sporting performance but more importantly overall health and wellbeing.

 

Why do we need Vitamin D?

Vitamin D plays many vital roles in our body. The most renowned is its role in aiding the absorption of dietary calcium, and subsequent role in maintaining bone health. So, without Vitamin D present, we don’t absorb as much or any calcium from what we eat and drink, missing out on its vital benefits without realising. It also plays a crucial role in muscle function, recovery, and repair. A study in the Journal of Physiology showed that supplementing with 4000IU/day of Vitamin D had a positive effect on recovery following a bout of damaging eccentric exercise (31).

Vitamin D also plays an important role in immune function.  A study in 2011 looked at Vitamin D levels in college athletes over the winter and spring. It showed that those athletes with Vitamins D levels less than 95 n.mol.1 experienced one or more episodes of upper respiratory tract infection compared to those with higher concentrations of measured Vitamin D.

 

Where can I get Vitamin D from and how much should I take?

Vitamin D exists in very few foods, but mainly oily fish, red meat, liver, eggs yolks and fortified foods such as cereal and spreads). As a result, it’s very hard to meet daily requirements through food consumption alone. The Department of Health recommends taking a daily supplement of 10 micrograms  (400 IU) through the winter months and all year round if you are not outside very often or you wear clothes that cover you up when outdoors.

If you are deficient you may need to supplement with more, however, as there are not clear signs to look out for it is hard to judge. General signs such as recurrent injury, fatigue and muscle soreness can be warning signals but hard to identify, as a lot of athletes can feel like this simply as a result of training.  Rather than guessing, the best way to find out is having a blood test. This can give you a clear answer on whether you need to supplement or not and will be advised by your Dr or dietitian as to what level to take. Although rare, as Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (excess amounts get stored, rather than excreted) there is always a chance that you can obtain too much Vitamin D if you supplement with high levels without a clear reason to. Although we know maintaining Vitamin D levels within the recommended amount is beneficial for our health and athletic performance, it is still unproven that Vitamin D supplementation is a direct performance enhancer.

 

Vitamin D’s effects on Cardiorespiratory Fitness (CRF)

Vitamin D also plays an important role in immune function, especially if you’re active.  A study in 2011 looked at Vitamin D levels in college athletes over the winter and spring. It showed that those athletes with Vitamin D levels less than 95 n.mol.1 experienced one or more episodes of upper respiratory tract infection compared to those with higher concentrations of measured Vitamin D.

Additionally, a recent study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology looked into a link between Vitamin D and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF). They tested the blood of 2000 subjects to determine their Vitamin D levels compared to their VO2 max (a marker of cardiorespiratory fitness showing how efficiently your body utilises oxygen).

They found that those in the higher quartile of Vitamin D levels had significantly higher VO2 max levels, compared to those in the lower quartile. This suggested an association between CRP fitness and Vitamin D levels. However, it is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario as the researchers are still yet to conclude from this if CRF is better because of higher Vit D levels, or if Vit D levels are better because of higher CRF.

The general consensus is that Vitamin D deficiency can affect athletic performance, but it is still unknown if Vit D supplementation in those that are not deficient will have the same effects on performance and recovery as those that have a proven Vit D deficiency. More studies on this are needed.

 

Article by Alex Cook, The Sports Dietician

https://www.thesportsdietitian.co.uk/

 

 

Christmas Season Survival Tips from our Dietician, Alex Cook

Christmas Season Survival Tips from our Dietician, Alex Cook

Christmas is a season to eat and be merry of course, but many use it as an excuse to overindulge. Many claim putting on weight over the festive season is part and parcel of celebrations but in reality, it is not necessary and can be avoided. Maintain focus on your longer term goals, whether that’s simply to be healthier overall, or even as hardcore as preparing for competitive events in the new year; keeping them in mind will help you decide where to draw your lines!

We are not advising anyone to restrict their food intake, but if you want to enjoy the next few weeks without overdoing it, follow our Christmas survival top tips to control the festive urge!

 

  1. Maintain your routine – Although it’s only natural for things to go a little awry over Christmas time, try and keep some things the same. Maintaining some basic principles of drinking plenty of water, having a good breakfast and making sure you hit 5 fruit and vegetables a day will stand you in good stead. Think about planning your exercise in where you can too, something is better than nothing, especially if the Christmas week is a little hectic with family and commitments.  
  2. Don’t feel guilty – if you do go a little overboard, banish the guilt. Don’t use words such as “cheat day” or “bad” food. You need to enjoy yourself so get rid of negative talk. Enjoy your time and your food and if you think you slightly overdo it, just cut back a bit the next day. Think about balancing it across the week, if you have one day you’ve overindulged for a staff party or such, you can still eat really well and clean on the other days.   
  3. Don’t feel obliged – It is ok to say no! Just because someone has offered or made something, you don’t have to eat it. Don’t feel pressured by the “but it’s Christmas” comment. Eat and drink what you are comfortable with and don’t eat or drink to please others. 
  4. Have a protein rich snack before you go out – Protein takes longer to digest and therefore keeps you full up for longer. If you go out feeling really hungry, you are more likely to yield to monster portions when faced with the option. Have some hummus and raw veg or greek yogurt with seeds and nuts – that will keep hunger at bay. 
  5. Avoid buying too much food – Having cupboards bursting with foods can be a recipe for disaster. The temptation to eat more than you need is there as a result of not wanting it to “go to waste”. Try and only buy what you need and avoid over-sized boxes, tins of biscuits and crisps etc…if they are there, you will only be tempted to eat more. 
  6. Back away from that buffet! – Buffets can be a dangerous place, bitesize food makes it feel like you’re not eating a lot when you are. Make sure you fill half your plate up with veggies or salad, then protein based foods such as chicken or fish and then the smallest portion carbohydrates like bread or potatoes. Take time selecting your food and once your plate is full, move away to avoid the oh-so-easy grazing and hopefully to do some dancing!

 

Top Tips for Winter Wellness

Top Tips for Winter Wellness

As ol’ Ned Stark said, “Winter is coming”, and after the Arctic spell we had last year, we need to think ahead and be prepared.  Although we know that moderate exercise is good for keeping the bugs away, it is also evident that those of us engaged in more intense training, or have recently competed in an endurance event, appear to have an increased risk of developing symptoms of the upper respiratory tract (URT) (1). To us at Amplify Life, that just seems unfair!

To make matters worse, if you’re training to compete at any level, getting unwell can lead to a nice relaxing anxiety attack about time ticking away towards your next race! Many of us constantly analyse our levels of fitness, or lack thereof when the flu comes around. It adds an extra intensity and stress to a winter bug that maybe non-athletes don’t get.

We are itching to get back in our trainers and training schedules and, as a result, we may not rest quite enough and allow our bodies to recover before pushing the heart rate up again.

So, from learning through experience, here are my top tips for staying well and top of your training game during Winter (..and not ending up feeling like a white walker in the army of the undead)!

Eat well and hydrate often

  • It may seem simple, but one thing that does your body no good is training hard and not eating correctly to meet your requirements. Immune system function appears to be suppressed during periods of low calorific intake and weight reduction. Therefore, if you are prone to catching illness, it is advised to lose weight slowly and during non-competitive training phases when training volume is lower (2). In general, eating a healthy balanced diet on a day to day basis is a simple step to ensure an optimally functioning immune system. As, if you are energy deficient your immune system may suffer, and you may be more susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections (URTI).
  • A healthy immune system benefits from a diet adequate in calories, high in fresh fruit and vegetables, omega 3 fats, nuts and whole grains. Ensuring three meals a day and good recovery meals / snacks that contain carbs (50g) and protein (20g) post training will help keep your body in top form.
  • Keep hydration levels up. Drink regularly throughout the day (moderate tea and coffee intake also counts) and ensure after you have trained you hydrate enough for your urine to be clear.

Carbohydrate and fluid intake during exercise

  • Studies have found that carbohydrate intake may play an important role in maintaining effective immune function. Low carbohydrate intake may cause direct immunosuppression, as immune cells function best on glucose alone.
  • Additionally, ingestion of carbohydrates during prolonged, intense levels of exercise can reduce the production of cortisol as a response to training. Cortisol, known as the ‘stress hormone’, has been linked with immune suppression. If an athlete is training fasted or in an intentionally low-glycogen state, it is advised not do this more than a few days at a time. Plus, if you’re prone to illness and bugs it’s probably a safe bet to not do it at all until your immune system is back to strength.
  • Staying hydrated during exercise has multiple benefits. One key reason is that it ensures saliva flow is maintained (mmm nice right?). Saliva is important as it contains antimicrobial properties, so if saliva flow decreases there is a chance that we become more susceptible to infection from viruses and bacteria (1).

VitaminC

  • Vitamin C has antioxidant properties which help counteract the effect of damaging free radicals you produce as a result of heavy exertion. If you manage to have plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet, then supplementation may not be necessary. However, during high levels of training and getting over illness, you may benefit from increasing your Vit C intake to give your body that extra boost.
  • A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (3) showed how the supplementation of 600mg Vitamin C per day for 3 weeks prior to a 90km ultra marathon race, reduced the incidence of URTI during the 2 week recovery period.

Probiotics

  • Probiotics or ‘friendly bacteria’ are getting more and more attention these days. Whether you are fermenting your own food or taking a supplement, we are much more aware of how significant our bowel health plays in so many aspects of our wellness. Thinking about adding these into your diet may be a wise idea to help fortify your immune system.
  • Active people should look out for probiotics that contain at least 10 billion live species of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. If you don’t want to take supplements, try using live natural yogurt or foods such as sauerkraut and kefir for example.
  • A double blinded study in the International Journal of Sport, Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (4) supplemented 84 endurance athletes with a probiotic or placebo over 4 months of winter training. They measured the incidence of URTI in both groups. The number of athletes that experienced 1 or more weeks of URTI was 36% higher in the placebo group compared to those that took a probiotic.

Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D is recognised as having an important role in immunity and helps to defend against the common cold. Vitamin D deficiencies are common in the athletic population, although the general population also suffers, especially in the months between October and March due to lack of natural sunlight.
  • Individuals are advised to supplement every day with 10 mcg of Vitamin D a day, and make the most of daylight hours!
  • It’s also crucial in assisting phosphate and calcium absorption, so getting enough Vitamin D is important when making sure you can get everything you can from what you eat and supplement.

Immune Boosting Top Tips summary!

  1. Don’t skip meals and avoid negative energy balance. Overall energy intake should match your requirements. Don’t shy away from carbohydrates, and if you are doing fasted training / training low carb, only do it for a few days at a time.
  2. Consider taking carbohydrate during training (30-60g / hr). Taking this in fluid form also helps maintain hydration and saliva flow.
  3. Ensure regular intake of protein (20g per meal per day) and focus on post training meals (0.3g/kg of body weight).
  4. Regular intake of fruit, vegetables and salads (at least 7 a day). If you think you will struggle with this consider taking a multi vitamin.
  5. Take Vitamin D supplement between October and March.
  6. Take probiotic every day ensuring it has at least 10 billion live bacteria
  7. Consider supplementing with extra Vit C (no more than 1000mg) leading up to focus races.

(* note : if you are taking a multivitamin, to avoid double dosing check what it contains as you may not need extra vitamin C or D, for example.)

Article by Alex Cook – Registered Sports & Clinical Dietician

References

  1. Gleeson M 2016 Immunological aspects of sport nutrition. Immunology and Cell biology 94 117-123
  2. Nieman DC et al 1996 Immune response to obesity and moderate weight loss Int. J Obesity relatedMetab. Discord, 20:353-360
  3. Peters EM et al Vitamin C supplementation reduces the incidence of postface symptoms of URTI in ultra marathon runners Am Journal Clinical Nutrition 57: 170-174
  4. Gleeson M, Bishop NC, Oliveira M, Tauler P 2010 Daily probiotics (Lactobacillus casei Shirota) Reduction  of infection incidence in athletes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 1-10

Nutrition Tips On Your Road To Recovery!

Nutrition Tips On Your Road To Recovery!

Congratulations to those who ran in the Richmond Run fest at the weekend!. Whether you’ve completed 5 or 21.1km, you’ve achieved your goal!  Mentally you will be buzzing but physically you will be tired. Your body is in recovery mode and may need a little support from you in the coming week.

How we recover is paramount to overall performance. Just as important as that Sunday long run and Tuesday track session.  The reality is, if we recover better we can train harder.  It is this that makes a huge impact on performance not just by getting us back to previous form but can make us even better.  When a session is done or race completed, many of us switch off too early. Understanding a little more about how we can help our bodies recover better after hard training sessions and races will make you a stronger runner.

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in this process. Providing the body with the correct nutrients at the correct time can affect the rate we recover. Dehydration, glycogen depletion (when our carb stores have been used) and muscle soreness can all be tackled by a consistent nutrition strategy.

What do we need?

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Carbohydrates and protein are the main nutrients we need to get the recovery process going. Although both play equally important roles, protein is always the main nutrient that is associated with recovery. Indeed it is the main driver for muscle protein synthesis, the process that instigates muscle repair and adaptation. However for runners, carbohydrate is just as important. We run, we use up our fuel (muscle glycogen) and when we finish, especially over longer distances, the tank can be close to empty. If we don’t replenish these stores, our next training session may be hampered. Rehydrating is also a focus point. Dark coloured wee post training or racing is to be expected but the aim is to get it nice a clear again within a few hours. Once you have achieved this, you know your body is rehydrated and back in balance.

A certain amount of inflammation and stress occurs when you train as well and it is part of the training and adaptation process that helps us get fitter. Along side ensuring you meet your carbohydrate, protein and hydration needs, foods with antioxidants and anti inflammatory properties will help us recover. Look for brightly coloured fruit and vegetables and ensure you have them at least 5 portions a day (more is ideal). Good fats found in fish oils can also regulate some of the stress and inflammation that we get from hard exercise. So regular intake of oily fish, olive oil and nuts for example is a goof habit to get into.

How do you do this? 

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The 3 R’s of recovery are your sole nutrition recovery focus. If you adhere to these 3 rules after every hard session and race, you can be sure recovery will be  training harder with more consistency.

 Rehydrate  

 Refuel 

 Rebuild 

1      Rehydrate with water or / and electrolyte drink. You need to take on fluid at a rate that you are not peeing it straight out!  As soon as you have finished training / racing drink 500mls fluid. After that, drink little and  often until urine is clear or you have reached your pre run weight. If you have sweated a lot or it is a particularly hot day you may want some added electrolytes to help the hydration process. If you want to be more exact drink 1.5L of fluid for every 1 kg lost in weight (1).

2      Refuel with carbohydrate but no need tp over compensate! Everyone likes to indulge post race but after most training sessions you don’t have to go crazy! Here are some guidelines:

  • If you have 24 hours between sessions, your strategy can be a little more relaxed.      Follow your daily carb needs appropriate for your level of activity and ensure a well balanced mea within an hour or so of finishing exercise. Simple but effective!
  • If you have less than 8 hrs between sessions, or you have done a gruelling fasted sessions this is where you need to be more exact. Take approximately 1g carbs / kg of body weight each hour for 3-4 hrs to maximise glycogen synthesis (2). This way you will ensure your glycogen stores are as restored as much as possible for the next session.

3      Rebuild with protein. Protein is not essential for the immediate post session recovery (i.e. it won’t make any difference to  performance in a second session a few hours later) but plays a large part in long term recovery and adaptation to training. As mentioned previously it is the main driver for muscle protein synthesis but this process occurs over many hours and days. Therefore getting into the habit of having approx 20 g protein post session and then regularly at each meal and snack for remainder of the day will ensure adequate adaptation to training sessions and ensure an improvement in performance.

Example of how to get 10g protein

FoodQuantity
nuts50g
milk300mls
eggs2 medium
nut butter50g
yogurt200g
chicken40g

In essence you need to think ahead. A prepared athlete is a successful athlete. Simply by ensuring you don’t go hours without eating after training or racing and eat a snack or meal with adequate carbohydrate and protein you will ensure recovery will be efficient. Always carry items such as cereal bars, nuts and dried fruit in your bag so there is always something if you have forgotten something more substantial. More careful planning is needed if you are training twice day as the recovery window is much smaller. Below is an example of a really easy, cheap to make DIY recovery shake for quick instant refuelling:

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Banana and Oat recovery shake 

1 pint skimmed milk

1 banana

15g raw oats

Put everything in a blender and blitz up ready to go. If you are going away from home for a session, put in insulated cold flask to keep chilled.

CaloriesCarbohydrateProteinfat
39070g19g2.5 g
  1. M, Sawka MN, Burke LM, et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2007;39(2):377–390.
  2. Burke LM, Kiens B, Ivy JL. Carbohydrates and fat for training and recovery. Journal of Sports Sciences. 2004;22(1):15–30.

The Top 10 Foods For Athletes

The Top 10 Foods For Athletes

Whatever your level, if you’re an active person select these nutrient-dense superfoods for your best performance!

  1. Dark green vegetables

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Green Vegetable Salad

Key nutrients: B Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants

Mineral-rich leafy greens are key foods in any athlete’s diet, providing nutrients for energy production and fibre. The darker green they are, the higher concentrations of antioxidants. Antioxidant-rich vegetables help regulate the body’s inflammatory process. Vegetables such as kale and spinach also contain carotenoids and flavonoids, two powerful antioxidant families that protect cells from free radicals that cause oxidative stress.

  1. Eggs

Key nutrients: vitamin D and Leucine

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Eggs provide protein in a low calorie package. Egg yolks are also a good source of vitamin D essential for bone and muscle health. And there are the BCAA (branch chain amino acids), particularly Leucine in eggs that are vital building blocks for muscular growth, as well helping to promote fat oxidation and endurance.

  1. Bananas

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Key nutrients: potassium, choline and vitamin B6

Potassium is one of the electrolytes lost after intense exercise, so replacing this is vital to aid recovery. Choline is needed for healthy nervous system activity and for healthy cell structure. Vitamin B6 in bananas is crucial for red blood cell production, and assists in carbohydrate metabolism.

  1. Milk

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Key nutrients: carbs, calcium and protein

A combination of carbohydrates and protein make milk an ideal post exercise muscle recovery drink as consuming the macronutrients together allows muscle tissues to repair faster. Calcium is known for boosting bone health and in a two-year American study looking at the affects of different nutrients on bone density, it was shown that an extra cup of milk a day was found to reduce runners’ incidence of developing a stress fracture by 62 per cent.

  1. Lean red meat

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Key nutrients: iron and B12

The easiest and quickest way to get iron and B12 on board is to eat red meat. Red meat has had a bad press but if you choose organic, or grass-fed, and avoid processed meats, you’ll be sure of getting plenty ‘performance nutrition’! Iron deficiency can result in poor performance, and symptoms include, tiredness, shortness of breath, and elevated heart rate.

  1. Oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna)

saskia-van-manen-558622-unsplash.jpgKey nutrients: Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs)

Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout are all good sources of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and are excellent for heart health, too.

  1. Quinoa

james-sutton-207988-unsplash.jpgKey nutrient: Amino Acids

Quinoa contains twice as much protein as rice or cous cous, and it’s gluten-free and fibre-rich. This nutrient-dense grain doubles up as a source of low GI carbohydrate and the bonus is that the protein in quinoa has a near perfect blend of nine essential amino acids, which we need to build lean muscle mass and recover well.

  1. Blackcurrants (New Zealand CurranNZ)

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Key nutrient: Anthocyanins

These universal plant pigments responsible for the red, purple, and blue hues in foods have lots of health-promoting qualities. They have a positive affect on blood flow, and studies have found that taking a supplement such as CurraNZ (NZ Blackcurrant) increases lactate clearance, enhances fat metabolism, improves endurance and boosts recovery.

  1. Almonds

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Key nutrients: Vitamin E, calcium and magnesium

Eat a small handful of almonds at least three to five times per week for a top source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that many athletes can fall short on. Almonds also help lower bad cholesterol, whilst raising levels of good cholesterol. Almonds are a great source of calcium and magnesium too, both vital for bone and muscle health in athletes.

  1. Pumpkin seeds

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Key nutrients: Zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, iron

High carb diets may decrease zinc absorption, so topping up levels with a daily handful of pumpkin seeds is the perfect answer! Zinc has an important role to play when it comes to immunity, so very relevant for endurance athletes who train hard, and often compromise their immunity. Pumpkin seeds are also a very useful vegetarian source of iron.

Getting Carbs Right for Sport

Getting Carbs Right for Sport

Runners love pasta parties, and endurance athletes are fuelled by gels and sweets, but do we need to rethink our relationship with carbs for the best performance? Runner and coach, Fiona Bugler and sports nutritionist Lucy Ann Prideaux report.

The movement to ‘train low carb and race high carb’ has gathered momentum in recent years amongst triathletes, cyclists – and even runners! And former carb fans, such as world renowned running expert, Tim Noakes, author of the The Lore of Running have had a complete change of view, saying excess amounts of carbs (especially high GI, sugary and refined carbs), are not good for runners and that sugar and processed food is responsible for the obesity epidemic and shocking rises in diseases such as diabetes (Diabetes doubles in twenty years ) found that there is 3.7 Million people living with diabetes in the UK.

Carb diet options for athletes

So how does the ‘traditional’ endurance athlete’s high-carb diet work? The body will easily adapt to a high-carb diet, becoming highly efficient at metabolizing carbohydrates for energy. In a long run or race for example, a runner may top up with energy-boosting carb gels. If they don’t have gels, they may under perform not because carbs are the only answer, but because their body has adapted to carbohydrate metabolism, burns carbs quickly, and needs regular top-ups. It expects to receive regular amounts of glucose to continue making energy.

The theory goes on that if you train the body to use fat when you run you do not need to be loading up with extra carbs. However, some athletes find that during this transition period, when relying too much on burning fat as fuel it’s harder to move faster or step up a gear, as the body can’t make energy quickly enough, and they run out of juice during training – and catastrophically, on race day. Many opt to ‘train low’ on carbs (50 per cent fats, 25 per cent carbs, and 25 per cent protein) for five to 10 days. Then, one to three days before a race, they opt for carb-loading with 80 per cent of their food coming from carbohydrates, 10 per cent from fat, and 10 per cent from protein, and take carbs on board during the race, i.e. ‘race high’.

We still need carbs – but watch your GI score

Carbs do supply readily available energy for performance but it’s important that the carbs we eat are healthy and we understand that not all carbs are equal. Carbohydrates are ranked using a scoring system called the glycemic index (GI). The GI score of a food is based on the rate at which it breaks down into sugar (glucose), how fast it is absorbed, and consequently how quickly is raises levels of blood glucose.

High GI Carbohydrates breakdown quickly during digestion, and release glucose into the blood very quickly.

Examples: processed ‘white’ foods, pure sugar, and energy gels.

✗Eating too many high GI foods can block the ability to burn fat.

✗High GI foods don’t fill you up and you’ll get hungry again quickly.

✓High GI food can provide fast-energy replenishment or be used during exercise – e.g. energy gels.

Low GI Carbohydrates breakdown slowly, releasing their glucose gradually into the blood stream.

Examples: Apples, pears, plums, oranges, grapefruits, raspberries, blueberries, kiwis, fresh figs; brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, barley, a few wholegrain breads such as dark whole rye bread, soy/linseed bread, and vegetables.

✓Provide longer-lasting energy, and a more sustained feeling of fullness, therefore aid in fat loss.

✓Generally, these foods are higher in fibre and nutrients, too.

 

The ultimate solution and best diet for athletes, is one that is flexible and includes moderate amounts of healthy carbohydrates balanced with quality proteins and essential fats. During periods of intense training, and leading up to long endurance events, the athlete should increase the amount of carbs, based on their particular energy expenditure, and their response to carbohydrates. Trial and error is necessary to a degree, and eventually the individual finds the perfect amount for them to train, recover, and race successfully.

 

Following A Nutrition Plan

Following A Nutrition Plan

Your body needs the right fuel whether it’s going to function at a higher level for sport and fitness challenges or keep going on a weight loss regime. That means not only ensuring the appropriate levels of calories are going in, but achieving the right balance of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and proteins too. Jo Waters reports.

Get enough calories

Skipping meals, snacking on nutritionally empty foods and failing to optimally time eating can all affect your strength and performance.

If your goal is to get fit and lose weight you might be tempted to cut your calorie intake right back – but there are limits. Cutting your calorie intake too low and getting too thin isn’t good for your performance as your body will burn muscle tissues and slow down the rate it burns calories, so weight loss may slow down too. If you don’t eat enough can also get run down and more prone to infections and injuries which can take longer to heal.

How many calories do you need?

The normal recommended calorie intake for men is 2,500 calories a day and 2,000 a day for women as a base line for maintaining weight. Obviously, this will vary according to your age and height/weight and the levels of energy you’re burning. If you are doing a lot of exercise though your calorie needs will be greater than this. For example, a 60-minute run will burn around 600 calories – so you’ll need some extra fuel.

If you’re looking to lose weight at the rate of 1lb a week you need to cut around 500 calories a day or 3,500 calories a week so factor this into the equation when you are calculating how many extra calories you need. Dieters may get frustrated at a slow rate of weight loss but it’s important to make slow changes that will be easier to stick to in the long term – it takes about 12 weeks for new habits to form.

The importance of just sticking at it!

Eat a full range of food groups including: fruit and vegetables; lean meat, fish/ poultry; dairy products; nuts and seeds; carbohydrates such as wholegrains, potatoes pasta and rice.

Don’t get too hung up on the type of food you choose, i.e. the balance of macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats). In 2013 The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), revealed that, “numerous trials comparing diets differing in macronutrient composition has demonstrated… very small and inconsistent differences in weight loss and metabolic risk factors.”

And furthermore, the real difference, the key to success for most diets is simple. It comes from sticking at it. Again in JAMA, four meta-analyses summarising between 14 and 24 major trials (in another words a broad sweep of studies) found that “adherence is the only consistent factor with weight loss and disease related outcomes.”

Avoid the Fads

Furthermore, faddy diets where one food group is prohibited such as a high fat diet or low carb regime may get quick results in the short term but you can run the risk of developing underlying health problems including vitamin deficiencies, constipation or gall stones.

Get the balance right

  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are great fuel for running and other forms of exercise. Eating a small bowl of porridge or a banana 30 minutes before a run will give you sustained energy release. If you’re doing a longer run you may need to take a healthy snack with you and/or a sports drink.
  • Protein: Protein is found in fish, meat, eggs and beans and is need by the body to replace muscle tissue. Runners should eat lean red meat or another food rich in iron to help prevent iron-deficiency anaemia.
  • Fruit and vegetables: The Department of Health recommends a minimum of five portions a day intake (although many experts now recommend 10). They’re packed full of vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy immune system, fill you up with fibre and are low in calories.
  • Dairy products: Milk, cheese and yogurts are a rich source of calcium needed for strong bones. Choose skimmed milk and low fat cheeses, including cottage cheese as lower fat alternatives to butter and hard cheese.