Did you know that calcium is the 5th most common substance in your body and the most abundant mineral? You probably know that a large part of your bones and teeth are made up of calcium. But calcium plays a much bigger role in health than contributing to strong bones and teeth, and these functions are all of importance to someone taking part in endurance sports like running, cycling and triathlon. For example, adequate calcium is needed to enable the contraction of heart muscle which in turn pumps blood around your body. It’s also required in the process by which your skeletal muscles contract. It helps nerve signals to be transmitted and it’s essential for normal blood clotting when injury occurs. It is also needed to activate the enzyme lipase which breaks down fat stores to produce energy. Continue reading “Calcium: A guide for the endurance athlete” »
I’m very pleased to welcome a guest contributor to my blog this month, Dr Nicky Keay, who is a medical doctor specialising in sports endocrinology. Dr Keay has published many papers relating to sports endocrinology (the impact of hormones on performance) and is a regular contributor to the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) and the British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine (BASEM). She will be organising and chairing the annual BASEM spring conference.
At the end of Dr Keay’s article, I have added some practical nutritional tips to help athletes avoid or recover from RED-S. Continue reading “Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports (RED-S) Practical Considerations for Endurance Athletes” »
This salad makes a great packed lunch to take to work on days when you are training in the early evening, with a good mix of quinoa and starchy vegetables to provide carbohydrate and protein from feta cheese, beans and quinoa. And, of course, the nitrates in the beetroot may help with stamina. See my blog here for the benefits of beetroot for endurance athletes. Continue reading “Beetroot, feta & quinoa salad – A lunch recipe for endurance athletes” »
Iron, calcium, sodium…..these are all minerals which an endurance athlete might consider when thinking about their nutrition. Am I getting enough iron in my diet to help prevent fatigue? Am I eating enough calcium to protect my bones? Am I replacing the sodium that I lose when I sweat? But do you ever think about whether you have adequate magnesium? Continue reading “Magnesium: A guide for the endurance athlete” »
As a nutritional therapist specialising in working with endurance athletes, people often come to see me seeking help with gastro-intestinal problems that they experience during training and, more commonly, racing. I have written briefly on this subject before with some practical tips to avoid GI problems while racing, most of which are appropriate for anyone competing in endurance sports. You can find these tips here.
I would now like to look at this issue, which affects so many athletes, in more depth. In the last few years, a number of studies have been published which suggest that there may be some additional strategies worth trying if you experience GI issues while training for or racing endurance events. Some of these are designed specifically to help mitigate the effects of strenuous exercise on the gut. Others may be appropriate if you suffer from chronic digestive health issues, which are then exacerbated during racing. In this blog, I am going to look firstly at the types of gut problems that may be experienced and why this occurs, and secondly at some strategies that may be worth trying to prevent these problems from affecting your race, based on the latest research. Continue reading “Gastro-Intestinal Problems and Endurance Sport” »
This is one of my favourite evening meals, filling and nourishing after a day with a long or hard training session. The mackerel is a great source of both protein (19g/100g) to help repair muscle and healthy omega 3 fats to support heart, joint, immune and brain function. Sweet potato provides carbs (20g/100g – a serving is 200g) to replenish glycogen stores together with fibre to maintain a healthy gut and a range of vitamins such as beta carotene, which is important for eye health. I’ve added tenderstem broccoli and leeks for additional plant nutrients, so this recipe provides 3 servings of vegetables. I’ve also included maple syrup for flavour and some additional carbohydrate (10g/tbsp)
A gel, a sugary sports drink or a bar packed with synthetic ingredients is the last thing that some endurance athletes want to consume while they are training or even racing. It might be that their digestive system simply cannot cope, particularly over a long session or race. It might be that they resent paying for often expensive branded products, which may include unnecessary ingredients in small, ineffective amounts. Or it might be that they simply prefer eating foods that are in their natural form or at least minimally processed, such as a bar with all natural ingredients. If you are one of these athletes, then this blog post is for you. Continue reading ““Real Food” Sports Nutrition: Options for the Endurance Athlete” »
The blog that I wrote back in 2013 about using beetroot juice to boost endurance sports performance (read it here) is the most popular on my website by some distance, being accessed many times each week. At the time, the evidence seemed clear: taking 2 shots of beetroot concentrate prior to a race had been shown to significantly improve performance by boosting nitric oxide levels, leading in turn to more efficient oxygen use. Many of the studies at this point had been done with cyclists or runners, often using simulated time trials or measuring time to exhaustion in the lab. But the success of that early research has, of course, resulted in further studies that provide a more nuanced picture of the benefits of beetroot, and nitrate-containing vegetables generally. Continue reading “Beetroot Juice: Will it help my performance in endurance sport?” »
If you are vegetarian or vegan and regularly compete in endurance sports events, it’s likely that at least one person you know has questioned whether your diet can possibly give you all the nutrients you need or whether you would perform better if you included meat and fish in your diet. But there is no reason for this to be the case: a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet can support a substantial endurance training programme, and the 2000 position paper from the ADA and American College of Sports Medicine explicitly states that “foods of animal origin are not essential to ensure optimal athletic performance.” 1 There are also some very successful athletes out there eating a plant food diet, such as ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek or triathlete Brendon Brazier. Continue reading “Nutritional considerations for vegetarian endurance athletes” »
One of the most popular posts on my blog is one explaining how to make nutritious smoothies – you can read it here. I thought I’d take this one step further by providing several different smoothie recipes that work well with a selection of training scenarios. Continue reading “More Smoothie Ideas for Endurance Athletes” »