To achieve maximum performance, you’ll need to go beyond the 3 meals a day approach. Active people need fuel throughout the entire day: plan small meals and snacks roughly every 2-3 hours, ideally timed around your training sessions.
Quality over convenience
Before you reach for the chocolate bar or fast food, remember this period of increased energy density is not an excuse for empty calories and junk food. Between meal snacks can supply up to 30% of daily energy intake and therefore should be of good nutritional quality (containing carbohydrate, fat, protein, micronutrients and antioxidants). Try plain organic yoghurt with nuts, seeds and berries, oatcakes with hummus or nut butter. Well-planned, frequent-eating occasions of nutritious foods and fluids must be prioritised in order for you to achieve maximum results. This approach manages your blood sugar levels so you don’t fall into energy dips and spikes during the day, promoting good mood, concentration, balanced weight and fuel for your muscles.
Stellar Health's top tips:
- Make use of energy dense drinks such as smoothies or liquid meal supplements before or after training. These are easily digested. Make sure you get some protein in there by adding some ground nuts or yoghurt and some good fats from chia seeds for example
- Eat within max 2 hours post training to promote recovery
- If you are training for >1.5 hours you really need to be replenishing electrolytes lost during sweating. Try coconut water for a natural replacement
- Certain cereal bars are convenient and can be nutritious but always read the label - avoid sugar, honey, corn syrup, fructose
- Keep healthy snacks in your locker at work or in your training bag. This could include nuts and seeds, Bounce Balls, oatcakes and nut butters
- Exercise creates free radicals which contribute to ageing!! Choose a variety of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables rich in antioxidants to offset the damage
- Beetroot acts as a vasodilator and has been shown to increase performance in athletes. Try juicing it with carrot, apple and ginger
- Liquid meal supplements are a convenient option for athletes on the run as they are fortified with vitamins and minerals with a combination of both carbohydrate and protein but only buy practitioner recommended brands or from reputable companies. Many do not hold up to scrutiny of scientific research. Stellar Health provides supplements that come with the INFORMED-SPORT and GMP marks.
Remember, when everything else is equal, nutrition can make the difference between winning and losing.