Simple Nutrition tips for the endurance athlete
Probably like a lot of endurance coaches I get tons of questions around nutrition and eating well when training and racing. In fact, after training advice it would be the next biggest topic. So, I thought I would pen some things that I have seen work well, and have worked well for me.
Nutrition is incredibly contentious and a minefield depending on your dietary stance. Therefore, the advice I give is general as everyone is different, and the approach to health first and foremost must be the goal. Improved fitness and endurance is the by-product of excellent health. I am not a dietician or a nutritionist, but firmly believe that if you are eating well, then you don’t need to train 10 – 15 hours a week to stay lean, and this advice is centred around the aim of staying near to your optimum weight, as this is the launching pad for true endurance performance. In other words, eat to get lean, don’t train to get lean as it rarely happens, is mostly unsustainable and can do long standing damage to your health.
Considering the quality of your training is vastly improved based on what goes in your gob, here are just 4 things that I have seen work very well for the MAJORITY of people and they are quite simplistic but powerful. Anyone that knows me well knows that I love a beer with pizza so I am by no means a zealot when it comes to these things, but if followed most of the time then solid performance with good energy levels will be a constant and will aid in consistency, which is our overall goal.
1. REMOVE SUGAR
It’s a no brainer but the toughest – Remove SUGAR from your lifestyle as much as possible. There is already tons in all your normal food.
2. NO MORE STARCHY CARBS
Bread, rice, potato, pasta, grains. This is probably the biggest particularly for males. Your gut will thank you for this one.
3. INCREASE THESE THREE THINGS
Water consumption, foods high in good fats, protein in every meal. Foods high in good fats: avocado, nuts, a lot of seafood, eggs, cook in coconut oil, olives, seeds and tons more. There are so many options here that this is really the game changer and just takes a bit of planning. Google is your friend here for simple recipes.
4. HAVE AN OFF DAY
Go crazy one day a week. Then you aren’t craving what you are missing. I like Sundays after the long ride personally for burgers and beers etc. The purists will hate this one but I have found this to be more effective and sustainable over the long term and this is what we are after is permanent long-term habits that lead to success.
Now, let me reiterate, I want this to be general in nature. We are not even going near things like the role of alcohol, the benefits of high fat/low carb training and racing, being a vegetarian and so on. I feel that these weigh in on individual lifestyle choices. I have aimed to make this general and what works to keep most at or near race weight, but also healthy and happy the whole year round as this is the hallmark of successful athletes, in that they don’t need to lose 8 – 10kg before getting into their training properly.
It becomes simply a matter of better awareness, a conscious decision of what you put in your mouth and better planning. You will notice the differences almost immediately.
Let me know your thoughts.