Recipe: Thai Green Curry

Thai food may well be one of your favourite choices for eating out or getting food delivered in, and it’s a relatively healthy option. But why not make a Thai green curry at home? It makes a tasty dinner and works well after an evening training session.

thai green curry recipe Continue reading

Taking ‘Healthy Eating’ too far? A Risk for Endurance Athletes

healthy eating as an endurance athleteA common trait shared by most endurance athletes is a determination to succeed in the goals that we set ourselves. We are focused and committed in our approach to improving our performance in our chosen sport: undertaking a demanding training programme, paying attention to recovery and doing our best to make lifestyle decisions which support both our athletic goals and our health and wellbeing. Part of this approach, of course, involves following a healthy diet, one which provides sufficient energy for training and racing, is suitably balanced between carbohydrates, fats and protein, meets requirements for vitamins and minerals, and optimises body composition. Continue reading

Some Nutritional New Year’s Resolutions for the Endurance Athlete

For my last blog post of 2017 – or the first of 2018, depending on when you are reading this – I thought I would draw up a short list of suggested New Year’s Resolutions for endurance sports participants to help you improve your diet and nutritional practices in 2018, with a subsequent benefit to performance. I’ve kept the list deliberately short and hopefully manageable: Continue reading

Preventing Christmas weight gain for the endurance athlete

Christmas beer

You’ve trained hard all year, and I hope that over the next couple of weeks you might be taking it a bit easier and enjoying some much deserved downtime. OK, maybe you have a short festive race planned or a long ride, but the chances are that your training volume is going to decrease for at least a few days as you spend time over Christmas with family and friends. If you are putting in fewer training hours, you are going to be burning fewer calories, and all at a time when the temptation is to indulge in all that festive food – often packed with sugar and saturated fat. So there is certainly a risk that you might gain a few pounds, and that’s going to be in the form of fat, not muscle.

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Carbohydrate and Protein Timing for Endurance Athletes

Clock face

The optimal time to eat and drink prior to, during and after exercise is an issue that all endurance athletes must contend with if they want to maximise benefits from training or perform at their best in races. It’s also been the subject of many research studies over the last 20 years or so, which has sometimes led to conflicting conclusions. So, it is good to see the well-respected International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) produce an updated position stand on Nutrient Timing recently (2017) 1, which makes practical recommendations for athletes about when to consume carbohydrate and protein. Continue reading

Recipe: Warming Veggie Curry

vegetarian curry recipe for endurance athletesThis curry makes a perfect winter recovery meal after a chilly bike ride or long run. The potatoes and five different vegetables provide carbohydrates to replenish muscle glycogen stores, while the hard-boiled eggs, peas and red lentils provide protein to support muscle recovery.

The various vegetables and spices add extra nutritional benefits to help keep you healthy through the winter months:

  • Potatoes, red pepper and onion are great sources of vitamin C to support immune function.
  • Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and anti-microbial garlic helps to fight bacterial infections.
  • Ginger has been shown to help reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
  • Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable containing glucosinolates that help support your body’s detoxication processes.
  • This curry is also high in fibre to help maintain a healthy digestive function.
  • Lastly, the salt in the Bouillon powder will contribute towards replenishing sodium lost in sweat, as will the natural sodium in the plant foods. Continue reading

Vegan Diets: A Guide for the Endurance Athlete

vegan quinoa bowlVegan diets have become noticeably more popular in recent years. Many people will choose to exclude all animal products from their diet for ethical reasons. Others may see it as a healthier way of eating. Or it may well be a combination of the two. I’ve certainly observed an increase in the number of endurance athletes who are turning to veganism. That’s great if it’s the right decision for you, and it is certainly possible to be both vegan and a high performer, but you do need to be aware of several potential risks to both your health and your performance if you follow a vegan diet which isn’t well balanced and doesn’t take account of potential nutrient deficiencies. Continue reading

The Role of Gut Bacteria in Health and Performance

Picture of gut bacteria

Introduction

The role of the gut bacteria in our bodies – known as the microbiome – has been a hot topic in medical research for a while. Given the impact that our microbiome has been found to have on digestive health, immunity, energy production, ability to lose weight and even the way in which our brain functions, it has not been surprising to see sports scientists starting to examine the role of gut bacteria on athletic performance. Continue reading

Calcium: A guide for the endurance athlete

Food sources of calcium

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

Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports (RED-S) Practical Considerations for Endurance Athletes

Mountjoy et al, BJSM, 2014

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