Healthy Fuel for Sport

If you’re trying to be healthy while training for a specific sporting goal then looking at fueling your training can be a toughie.

When you train for endurance, you need to be refueling your body during training with food and of course fluid.

Food is the easy part, you can make lots of yummy fresh food yourself or eat dried and fresh fruit.  There are also lots of healthy shop ready alternatives you can look into, we love gluten free LEDA Bars and Emma and Tom’s bars.  But it can be harder to digest solid food while training and you need to practice what works for you while you train.  Taking small bites often is better than cramming down an entire cereal bar in one hit.

Remember that when we train our bodies are in a heightened state of awareness, our heart rate is higher and our cortisol levels are raised.  This means we are in a state of fight or flight.  One of the first things our bodies shut down in this mode is digestion.  So fuelling with foods that we know we can easily digest is best and if you find you can’t digest, try easing off the pace a bit, you are probably going to hard and unless you are racing this isn’t always a great place to be.

Also, when food (or indeed yucky gels) hit our stomach we need to pull hydration from our body in order to assist digestion.  So if you are not hydrated adequately you can guess what’s going to happen to your ability to perform and your endurance within your given training session.

While the choices for solid food while training can be easy, fluid options on the other hand can be tricky.  Fluid is more readily accepted by the body during sport, it’s easier to digest during training but many people reach for sports drinks high in sugar and additives for convenience.

Some off the shelf brands are better than others, some also contain natural ingredients, but the best way to know what’s in anything is to make it yourself from real whole foods.

Here’s the basics:

Water – the main ingredient and the best carrier for getting electrolytes around the body.  Always use filtered water.

Salt – salt (sodium) is basically electrolytes.  Adequate sodium balance is necessary for transmitting nerve impulses and proper muscle function. When you sweat you lose sodium and water so you need to get this back in rapidly.  Use Himalayan Rock Salt or Sea Salt.

Citrus – one of the best ingredients for electrolyte replenishment. Four electrolytes present in lemons are calcium, potassium, magnesium and a trace of sodium.  Use organic fruit.

Here’s a really quick and easy recipe to try on your next long training session that will work just as well as shop brought stuff, but without all the nasty sugars and unpronounceables.:

  • 750ml, filtered water (or 750ml herbal tea, or 750ml half mix water and coconut water)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Himalayan rock salt (avoid table salt which contains no trace minerals and is nasty!)
  • 1/2  a lemon juiced
  • 1 tsp raw honey or stevia

Melt the honey and salt in a little warm water, add the lemon juice and top up with remaining cold water.  Give it a good shake and taste.  If needed then add a little more honey.

REMEMBER : ALWAYS try out your nutrition in training and NEVER try anything new on race day.

Enjoy.


12 March 2012

By Sarah Anne

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