Nutrition plan starts same time as training
When exercising, it’s not just what you eat, but when you eat that makes a big difference to your performance
Try to eat a rainbow of colour every day: that means at least one red fruit or vegetable for lycopene. Remember fruit and vegetables provide critical vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Photograph: Getty Images
Congratulations to everyone who ran in the 5km parkrun events last weekend as part of Get Running. Many of you will go on to make a 10km or even a half marathon your next impending goal.
A good nutrition plan is an essential ingredient to improving your ability to run and train. But pre-race nutrition does not start in the days or hours before your first 10km or triathlon. It starts once training begins.
It is not just what you eat, but when you eat in relation to your exercise or training that makes a big difference to your energy, your performance and how much body fat you burn.
Calories come from the three main nutrients in our foods:
n 1g of carbohydrate gives us approximately four
n 1g of any type of fat gives us nine calories.
n 1g of protein gives us four calories.
If you are trying to lose weight, cutting back on foods that contain both fat and added sugar will give you an effective reduction in calories quickly. Also 1g of alcohol gives you seven calories – empty calories that can dehydrate you.
For best performance, your intake should be :
n Approximately 50 per cent carbohydrates (high-fibre cereals, wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, potatoes with skins, vegetables and fruits, etc.)
n 30-35 per cent fats (healthy oils such as olive or rapeseed, low-fat dairy foods, etc.)
n 15-20 per cent protein (poultry, fish and shellfish, lean meat, eggs, nuts, beans, etc.)
Carbohydrate is a critical fuel for our working muscles, but we don’t always focus on the right type of carbohydrate. Cut down on the highly refined or processed carbohydrates and “carbs” that contain trans and certain saturated fats such as cakes, biscuits, pastry, sweets, chocolate and bakery products.
While there’s no need to count calories, you may be interested in knowing roughly how many calories your body needs. That way, if you pick up a confectionary snack or a ready meal in the supermarket, you can judge if it’s a good idea or not to include it as part of your meal plan. Grab yourself a calculator. This is not as complicated as it looks.
Your total calorie requirement = basic energy requirements (BER) + extra energy requirements (EER).
Step 1: BER
For every kg of body weight, 1.3 calories is required every hour.
If you weigh 60kg your BER = 1.3 × 60 kg x 24hrs => 1,872 calories/day.
Step 2: EER
For each hour of vigorous training, you require an extra 8.5 calories for each kg of body weight.