Planning your nutrition strategy for Olympic distance triathlon

Whether you are a seasoned competitor or undertaking your first Olympic Distance triathlon, you do need to plan your nutrition and hydration needs for this type of event. You might be able to get away without consuming energy drink or gels during a sprint distance triathlon, but it isn’t recommended for longer events. Continue reading

Male Endurance Athletes: Getting Older, Staying Healthy, Remaining Competitive

older male athletes - how to keep up your endurance

As a passionate endurance athlete, you’ll be looking to continue to participate in your chosen sport – be that triathlon, cycling, running or perhaps adventure racing – for many years to come and to remain as competitive as possible. It’s worth noting that in the past 30 years, increased participation in events lasting 6 hours or more by masters athletes (those over 40) has been accompanied by improvements in their performances at a much faster rate than their younger counterparts.¹ But decline in physical function to some extent is sadly inevitable as you increase in age, so putting in place strategies to minimise those declines before they take significant effect is fundamental to giving yourself every chance to continue doing the sport you love and performing to the best of your ability. 

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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

Endurance Training: Try the “Sleep Low” Nutrition Strategy

In January 2016, I wrote a blog post about the potential benefits of doing occasional training sessions in a glycogen depleted state, in other words with low carbohydrate stores. Various research studies have shown that this has benefits for endurance training, specifically in upregulating the process that creates mitochondria, the “batteries” of the muscle cell which burn fuel for energy. The more mitochondria you have in each muscle cell, the better for performance in endurance events. Training with low glycogen has also been shown to increase fat oxidation, your body’s ability to burn fat as fuel. This is thought to have benefits for endurance performance by sparing the limited glycogen stores available in the muscle. The longer you can use fat as your primary energy source, the longer you can make your carbohydrate stores last. You can find my earlier blog post here for more detailed information on how training with low glycogen stores at certain times may be beneficial. 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

High carb or low carb? A practical guide to optimising your endurance sports nutrition

carbs in endurance sportsAs a nutritionist who specialises in working with triathletes, cyclists and runners to improve their endurance sports performance, while at the same time needing to ensure that they remain in good health, I spend a lot of time discussing carbohydrate intake. Traditionally, a high carb diet has been seen as the obvious choice for endurance athletes, given that carbohydrate provides the main source of energy when training hard or racing. But recent years have seen the emergence of the alternative low carb high fat (LCHF) or ketogenic diet, which seems to improve the body’s ability to use fat as fuel at higher intensities, reducing the need for carbohydrate. This approach has been gaining popularity in the endurance sports community, particularly among those involved in longer distance events such as ultra-marathons or Ironman, where taking on large amounts of carbohydrate may cause gastrointestinal distress or be impractical. 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