Nutrition Basics - from Ian Hunter
Just a few points about diet when you are training and racing.
- Water is the most important part of an athletes diet. If you are under hydrated, you will under perform.
- There is no wonder diet; it all boils down to common sense and moderation.
- Expensive vitamins and supplements are unnecessary. If you are eating a balanced diet of lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, high quality carbohydrate from unrefined foods, variety of proteins and dairy products, then extra vitamins and supplements will make virtually no difference to your performance.
- Certain sports drinks may help to offset fatigue during training over 45 minutes or three times per day training, ingest as soon as possible after training or during training breaks. A banana and water will also do the same thing at the end of training, more cheaply. Many sports drinks are too concentrated to have the desired effect.
- Avoid all junk foods, which is anything that has high salt, sugar, fat, spice, colouring, artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
- Coca Cola and other sweetened drinks make you thirstier. Add 50% water or drink some water afterwards.
- The best way to control fatigue is to refuel the body immediately after exercise. Replenishing energy in body cells also helps your immune system to become more effective again. Water, a banana, peanut butter and jam sandwich, natural orange juice will all help the body to quickly replenish depleted muscle glycogen.
- If you are doing serious training you should eat small meals at least six times per day and be constantly taking in small volumes of fluid. Only having a few heavy meals each day and only drinking when you are thirsty will not allow you to perform at your best.
- Female athletes should make sure that they have lots of dairy products and other sources of calcium, esp. if they are rowing lightweight. Also it is believed that Vitamin C aids iron absorption. Calcium and VitC preferably from natural sources but can be taken as a supplement.
- Peanuts and raisins plus water are a good "pick-me-up" during the flat time of the day.
- Half of each meal should be complex carbohydrates. i.e. potato, rice, pasta, spaghetti, sweet potato, brown bread etc, etc. A quarter should be vegetables (steamed, not boiled) a quarter protein.
- The week before a regatta you can increase high quality carbo food and cut out completely the junk foods that have crept into your diet. Cut down on sugars, alcohol, none on the proceeding day, and hydrate sufficiently to keep your urine as clear as possible, certainly no more than light straw colour.
- A good breakfast, porridge, muesli, toast etc must be eaten the morning of a regatta even if you don�t feel like it, then take something, banana etc every three hours, plus water. DO NOT think that a hamburger on the way to the start is going to do any good. Likewise, Special K with semi skimmed milk is not an athletes breakfast, you require energy.
- In cold, wet weather it is important to change into dry clothes as quickly as possible and get warm. A flask of hot soup or cocoa is also a good idea.
- Speak to me if you want more specific advice about what to eat and how to train.
- Ian Hunter (updated 25.2.03)