Sports Nutritionist Tips
For many individuals, creating and committing to a healthy diet can be extremely difficult. While working out or training can be tough enough, the power of food and the pervasive nature of marketing and advertising process food can be overwhelming. Couple all that powerful marketing with the role food plays in social and work functions, it’s easy to see why maintaining a healthy diet that is conducive to exercise and endurance performance can be a challenge.
Nancy Clark, RD and sports nutritionist breaks down some misconceptions most people have about food and provides some practical and easy to follow fundamentals.
It’s All About The Meal
For the active athlete, especially the endurance athlete, meals should be about good, healthy carbs with protein as an accompaniment. In today’s maze of diet trends, many times protein becomes the lead with carbs being seen as completely bad. Simple carbs should be limited but complex carbs from fruits, vegetables and whole grains are not only good but necessary for strenuous training and racing.
“Every meal should consist of at least three different kinds of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, grains and calcium-rich foods,” Says Clark. Examples include:
Oatmeal (steel cut), nuts, raisins
Wholegrain pita, humus and veggies
Burning Fat, Not Muscle
While an active person may be hungry for large amounts of protein, Clark says that little portions of protein feed, build and repair muscles. Many people receive far more protein than is required, even for active adults. Excess protein will be turned into fat unless you stay active. Burning fat is good but if your goal is to lose weight, you must still place your body into a calorie deficit. For endurance athletes, your body will perform better and recover more quickly when fueled with complex carbohydrates and not excess protein.
Food For Training
Whatever your sport, Clark says an integral part of any training program is a two-part system of complex carbs and lean protein. The body needs carbs for fuel and protein to help build and repair muscles. Choosing quality calories is the key to performance enhancement.
Additionally, protein can come from not only lean cuts of meat and fish, but vegetables are a viable source of protein that also provide rich, complex carbohydrates and are much easier to digest. I find my performance improves and my recovery times are much quicker when I get my protein from plants versus animal sources.
When shopping for food, here are a couple of recommendations. First, never shop when you are hungry as you are likely to make unhealthy impulse purchases. Second, with a few exceptions like oatmeal and dried beans, the majority of your shopping should be done on the outer areas of the grocer story, staying away from the middle isles where the highly processed food is located. Finally, create a daily meal plan and stick to the plan. Eating clean is very rewarding and you will also be rewarded with a healthier body that performs at a higher level.
HERE’S TO BEING FIT FOR LIFE!
Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer and exercise and endurance enthusiast. He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.