Written by Laura from our Leeds, Headingley shop.
Good nutrition is essential to sporting success; poor nutrition can lead to decreased effects of training and fatigue. So there is no point in us putting effort into a run or walk if it's not backed up with good nutrition. There is a common misconception that sports nutrition products are only for the elite and those 'serious' runners that run for miles, this is simply not the case. If you want to get the most from yourself and optimise the time you spend training sports nutrition can help.
For example, going out for a walk dehydrated and with low energy stores can make it a lot harder and less enjoyable, putting you off future walks. If you were to take with you a energy drink full of sodium and carbohydrate your body would put up less of a fight and enable the walk to feel easier, getting the same fitness gains.
Our bodies burn fats, carbohydrates and some proteins to create energy. Of these, carbohydrates are much easier to use as an energy source and work a lot quicker than fat. This is because there is not as much oxygen needed, therefore carbohydrate is more efficient and the first choice for the body during intense exercise. If our body does not have enough carbohydrate it increases the difficulty of training and racing and can impair recovery. Protein only supplies a small proportion of our daily energy and its main uses are repair and to fight infection, which is why they are important for recovery.
So keeping carbohydrates replenished should be a priority, through a good diet stores can be kept high and drinks and gels can help maintain blood sugar levels while exercising.
Hydration is also key, losing 1-2% body weight in sweat can decrease physical and mental function due to lack of fluids and electrolytes lost.
Being hydrated is obviously dependent on how much fluid you drink but can also be determined by what types of fluid you drink: in short electrolyte drinks can allow for better hydration!
How much we drink can also be determined by its palatability, you are more likely to drink a flavoured drink than water and most sports drinks are designed to taste good while exercising. However on the reverse side drinking too much can also cause problems: (not just the obvious need for the toilet while running, but cases of intoxication, or hyponatremia have occurred in some endurance and ultra endurance events when too much low sodium fluid has lead to swelling of the brain.
The new exercise hydration advice is to drink according to your thirst. It is also wise to us an electrolyte based drink (that has sodium in it! All sports drinks will have ingredients on it somewhere so have a look and see how much sodium is in it).
Therefore on race day and during training it is important to remain optimally hydrated and loaded with carbohydrates. No matter what level you are running at.
Before Race day
Earlier I said that it's important to keep available stores of carbohydrates, to do this its recommended to taper training and eating carbohydrate in the days preceding competition. SIS recommends using psp22 to satisfy the quantities of carbohydrates recommended 600g per 24 hours e.g. (3 kg of potatoes!)
2-3 hours before the race it is wise to take on a high carbohydrate content meal, fairly low in fat again supplements can be taken like psp22.
During the race or exercise
During the race or training run it's important to keep blood sugar levels high to maintain performance you can do this through the use of a regular supply of carbohydrate energy drinks and gels.
Different people recommend different things, it's important to find what works best with you. In store we can give advice on how the supplements differ which might indicate which will suit you. (Some have a high content of simple sugars (instant kick) and others have higher complex carbohydrates (prolonged kick).)
SIS recommends taking one GO gel 10 minutes before the race then one gel every 30 minutes. Gels are great because they are so easily digested and nice and light on the stomach. Alternatives come in liquid or jelly form.
TOP TIP different gels work best for different people always try them before your race in training!)
It's really important to get fuel in as quick as possible to aid recovery and reduce muscle soreness; the best way is normally though the uses of a recovery drink such as SIS REGO or For Goodness Shakes. The SIS and High 5 do not contain powdered milk and this allows for quicker gastric empting which arguably aids quicker recovery. Adding milk does make them taste nice though.
(TOP TIP having a recovery drink after a gruelling training session or race will reduce muscle soreness the next day.)
Sports nutrition is important for all levels of participation.
Focus on staying hydrated.
Electrolyte drinks will keep you better hydrated than water. If you are exercising for weight loss there is a high 5 product called Zero which is a great option as it has no calories.
Keep carbohydrate levels high before and during exercise.
Use a drink or gel to maintain high carbohydrates after 30 minutes of exercise.
If the session has been tough for the body to get stronger and improve it needs to repair. Ingest protein rich food or a protein recovery drink as soon after exercise as you can.
For any more advice don't hesitate to pop in store where we will be happy to help.