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

Nutritional considerations for vegetarian endurance athletes

advice for vegetarian athletes

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 the ‘Off Season’

White wine and pizzaEveryone participating in endurance sport, however much they love it, needs a period of rest away from training and competing. A chance to recharge your batteries, to spend more time with family and friends – who may be feeling somewhat neglected – and to give your body the opportunity to recover from the physical and physiological stress that you’ve placed it under for the previous months. Continue reading

Probiotics: A Guide for the Endurance Athlete

probioticThe topic of gut health seems to have hit in the mainstream in the last couple of years, with media articles urging you to support the bacterial population that live in your digestive tract by consuming yogurt, sauerkraut and sourdough bread or drinking bone broth to prevent ‘leaky gut’. You might have wondered if this has any relevance to you as an endurance athlete. The answer is yes. Continue reading

Low Glycogen Training for the Endurance Athlete

Train LowIf social media is anything to go by, it often seems like there are two opposing schools of thought in sports nutrition at the moment. In one camp are those who believe that ‘carbohydrate is king’, basing their daily diet around regular intake of starchy carbohydrates like pasta, bread, crackers, rice, potato, oats and other grains, supplemented with plenty of fruit (and hopefully vegetables too) and perhaps some carefully chosen sources of sugar like dried fruit, honey and maple syrup. In addition, they might regularly fuel their workouts with energy bars, sports drinks and gels, not to speak of carefully consuming a carbohydrate and protein drink after training to aid their recovery. There is certainly plenty of research to back up that traditional approach to endurance sports nutrition and plenty of athletes out there, recreational and professional, who vouch for its effectiveness in terms of performance and recovery. Continue reading

Preventing and Recovery from Overtraining: How good nutrition can help

overreaching-overtraining-graph

As the main endurance sports season draws to a close in the UK – I’m writing this at the start of October – how are you feeling? Did you achieve your goals? Did you manage to avoid injury or illness? Are you feeling ready for a break but looking forward to training and racing next year? Or are you feeling more fatigued than usual – you might describe it as “burnt out”? Perhaps you fell short of achieving your goals, feel in need of a long period of rest and are wondering what you need to do differently next year to avoid this happening again? Continue reading

The Benefits of Cherry Juice for Endurance Sports Performance

If you are not currently including cherry juice as part of your nutrition plan to support your endurance training, it is well worth considering, in my opinion. In this blog post I take a look at the properties of cherries, specifically the tart Montmorency variety, which research suggests can be of value to people training for endurance sports events, and suggest a number of ways to incorporate cherry juice into your training and recovery routines. Continue reading

Developing lean muscle: A Nutrition Guide for Endurance Athletes

lean legs

As an endurance athlete, I would guess that building muscle isn’t at the top of your priority list. Your priorities are more likely to be improving your endurance capacity, building speed, improving efficiency, and perhaps reducing body fat. But strength is an important component of endurance performance, eg for development of threshold power, and it’s important not to neglect this aspect of training along with the nutritional practices that support the development of lean muscle tissue. The aim is not to bulk up, which might indeed be counter-productive for an endurance athlete, but to increase the proportion of lean muscle mass within your body composition. Continue reading

Nutritional Considerations for the Female Endurance Athlete

nutritional advice for a female endurance athleteAs a female endurance athlete, who is training hard and racing regularly, your nutritional needs are not the same as your typical sedentary or even regular gym-going woman. You are making higher demands on your body, and this requires more fuel, in the form of carbohydrates and fats, more “building blocks” from protein to enable repair and recovery, and a greater amount of micronutrients, eg vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, to help facilitate your body’s various metabolic processes and maintain good health. Your nutritional requirements are also different in some aspects from those of male endurance athletes. For example, women have a greater need for iron due to blood losses from menstruation, and it is also thought that they are able to oxidise a greater amount of stored fat than men, lessening their reliance on glycogen.1 Continue reading

Using Carbohydrates During Endurance Exercise

MarathonIf you are training for a marathon, long distance cycle race or triathlon, you are probably already using some form of carbohydrate during your longer training sessions, and will be aware of its benefits. But are you familiar with latest guidelines for carbohydrate use during exercise? Continue reading