Vitamins & Minerals: A Guide for Endurance Athletes

what minerals and vitamins do endurance athletes needAn athlete who performs at their best is also a healthy athlete. Fundamental to good health is meeting your vitamin and mineral requirements. A healthy diet for an endurance athlete isn’t just about making sure you are eating enough calories to meet the energy requirements of your training and everyday life, and within that a suitable balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Continue reading

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

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

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

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

Gastro-Intestinal Problems and Endurance Sport

gut health for endurance athletesAs 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

Recipe – Mackerel and Sweet Potato

recipes for endurance athletes

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)

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“Real Food” Sports Nutrition: Options for the Endurance Athlete

real food nutrition for endurance sportsA 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